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bequest 
T,3. Philips Ste\fart, B.A., 



Ob. A.D. 1892 




The Guardian of the Well in At the Hawk's Well.' 



FOUR PLAYS 
FOR DANCERS 






BY 



W. B. YEATS 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

192 i 



COPYRIGHT 



PR 

5904 

n 

IQ1I 



PREFACE 

Two of these plays must be opened by the unfolding and 
folding of the cloth, a substitute for the rising of the curtain, 
and all must be closed by it. The others, "The Dreaming 
of the Bones " and " Calvary/' should have the same opening, 
unless played after plays of the same kind, when it may seem 
a needless repetition. All must be played to the accompani- 
ment of drum and zither and flute, but on no account must 
the words be spoken " through music " in the fashionable 
way ; and the players must move a little stiffly and gravely 
like marionettes and, I think, to the accompaniment of drum 
taps. I felt, however, during the performance of " The 
Hawk's Well," the only one played up to this, that there was 
much to discover. Should I make a serious attempt, which 
I may not, being rather tired of the theatre, to arrange and 
supervise performances, the dancing will give me most 
trouble, for I know but vaguely what I want. I do not 
want any existing form of stage dancing, but something 
with a smaller gamut of expression, something more re- 
served, more self-controlled, as befits performers within 
arm's reach of their audience. 



vi FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

The designs by Mr. Dulac represent the masks and 
costumes used in the first performance of "The Hawk's Well." 
The beautiful mask of Cuchulain may, I think, serve for 
Dervorgilla, and if I write plays and organize performances 
on any scale and with any system, I shall hope for a small 
number of typical masks, each capable of use in several 
plays. The face of the speaker should be as much a work 
of art as the lines that he speaks or the costume that he 
wears, that all may be as artificial as possible. Perhaps in 
the end one would write plays for certain masks. If some fine 
sculptor should create for my " Calvary," for instance, the 
masks of Judas, of Lazarus, and of Christ, would not this 
suggest other plays now, or many generations from now, 
and possess one cannot tell what philosophical virility ? The 
mask, apart from its beauty, may suggest new situations at 

P a moment when the old ones seem exhausted ; "The Only 
Jealousy of Emer " was written to find what dramatic effect 
one could get out of a mask, changed while the player 
remains upon the stage to suggest a change of personality. 

v- At the end of this book there is some music by Mr. Rummell, 
which my friends tell me is both difficult and beautiful for 
" The Dreaming of the Bones." It will require, I am told, 
either a number of flutes of which the flute-player will pick 
now one, now another, or an elaborate modern flute which 
would not look in keeping. I prefer the first suggestion. 
I notice that Mr. Rummell has written no music for the 
dance, and I have some vague memory that when we talked 
it over in Paris he felt that he could not without the dancer's 
help. There is also music for " The Hawk's Well " by 



PREFACE vii 

Mr. Dulac, which is itself an exposition of method, for it 
was written after a number of rehearsals and for instruments 
that have great pictorial effect. 

" The Dreaming of Bones " and " The Only Jealousy 
of Emer," bound together as Two Plays for Dancers, were 
printed on my sister's hand-press at Dundrum, County 
Dublin, and published in a limited edition in the spring of 
1919, while " At the Hawk's Well " makes a part of the 
edition of The Wild Swans at Coole, printed at the same 
press in 1917, though not of the later edition of that book 
published by Macmillan. " At the Hawk's- Well" and 
" The Only Jealousy of Emer " are the first and last plays 
of a series of four dealing with Cuchulain's life. The others 
are my " Green Helmet " and " Baile's Strand." " Calvary " 
has not hitherto been published. 

That I might write " The Dreaming of the Bones " 
Mr. W. A. Henderson with great kindness wrote out for me 
all historical allusions to " Dervorgilla " ; but neither that 
nor any of these plays could have existed if Mr. Edmund 
Dulac had not taught me the value and beauty of the mask 
and rediscovered how to design and make it. 

W. B. YEATS. 

July 1920. 



CONTENTS 



AT THE HAWK'S WELL . . . . . . i 

^THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER . . . . 25 

THE DREAMING OF THE BONES . . . . . 51 

CALVARY ..... . . , 69 

NOTE ON THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF "AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 83 

Music FOR " AT THE HAWK'S WELL " . . . .89 

NOTE ON "THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER" . . .103 

Music FOR "THE DREAMING OF THE BONES" . . / . 107 

NOTE ON "THE DREAMING OF THE BONES" . . '.127 

NOTE ON "CALVARY" . . . . . . 133 



IX 



AT THE HAWK'S WELL 





PERSONS OF THE PLAY /^ 

THREE MUSICIANS (their faces made up to resemble masks]. 
THE GUARDIAN OF THE WELL (with face made up to resemble 

a mask). 

AN OLD MAN (wearing a mask). 
A YOUNG MAN (wearing a mask). 

The Time the Irish Heroic Age. 

The stage is any bare space before a wall against which 
stands a patterned screen. A drum and a gong and a zither 
have been laid close to the screen before the play begins. If 
necessary, they can be carried in, after the audience is seated, by 
the First Musician, who also can attend to the lights if there 
is any special lighting. We had two lanterns upon posts 
designed by Mr. Dulac at the outer corners of the stage, but 
they did not give enough light, and we found it better to play 
by the light of a large chandelier. Indeed I think, so far as 
my present experience goes, that the most effective lighting is 
the lighting we are most accustomed to in our rooms. These 
masked players seem stranger when there is no mechanical 
means of separating them from us. The First Musician carries 
with him a folded black cloth and goes to the centre of the 
stage towards the front and stands motionless, the folded cloth 
hanging from between his hands. The two musicians enter 



4 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



and, after standing a moment at either side of the stage, go 
towards him and slowly unfold the cloth, singing as they do so : 



- 



, 

(y^ 






I call to the eye_o_the mind 

A well long choked up and dry 

And boughs long stripped by the wind, 3 

And I call to the mind's eye 

Pallor of an iyory__face, v^^* K 

Its lofty dissolute air, 

A man cjirjobiiig 4ip to a place <^- 

Thejsalt^sea wind has swept bare. 



*> 






a. 



s\ 

^^ 



unfold the cloth., they go backward a little so that 
the stretched cloth and the wall make a triangle with the First 















Design for Black Cloth used in " At the Hawk's Well." 

, Musician at the apex supporting the centre of the cloth. On 

> the black cloth is a gold pattern suggesting a hawk. The 

Second and Third Musicians now slowly fold up the cloth again, 

pacing with a rhythmic movement of the arms towards the First 

Musician and singing : 




AT THE HAWK'S WELL 

What were his life soon done ! 
Would he lose by that or win ? H 
A mother that saw her son ^ 
Doubled over a speckled shin, 
^ Cross-grained with ninety years, 

Would cry, " How little worth 
Were all my hopes and fears 
And the hard pain of his birth ! 

The words " a speckled shin " are familiar to readers of 
Irish legendary stories in descriptions of old men bent double 
over the fire. While the cloth has been spread out, the Guardian 
of the Well has entered and is now crouching upon the ground. 
She is entirely covered by a black_ cloak. The three musicians 
have taken their places against the wall beside their instruments 
of music ; they will accompany the movements of the players 
with gong or drum or either. 



FIRST MUSICIAN (singing) 

The boughs of the hazel shake, 

The sun goes down in the west. C^ 



SECOND MUSICIAN (singing) 

e heart would be always awal 
The heart would turn to its rest. 



The heart would be always awake, |t 



(They now go to one side of the stage rolling up the cloth. 
A Girl has taken her place by a square blue cloth representing 
a well. She is motionless.) 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 

Nightfalls; 

The mountain -side grows dark ; 

The withered leaves of the hazel 



Half-choke the dry bed of the well ; 
The guardian of the well is sitting 
> Upon the old grey stone at its side, 
Worn out from raking its dry bed, 
Worn out from gathering up the leaves. 
Her heavy eyes 

Know nothing, or but look upon ^tone.J A 
The wind that blows out of the sea 
Turns over the heaped-up leaves at her side ; 

They rustle and diminish. 

; 

^f\ 
SECOND MUSICIAN 

1 1 am afraid of this place. "] 






BOTH MUSICIANS (singing) 

" Why should I sleep," the heart cries, 
' For the wind, the salt wind, the sea wind 
Is beating a cloud through the skies ; 
, : I would wander always like the wind." 

(An Old Man enters through the audience.} 
FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 






That bid manj climbs up hither, 
Who has been watching by his well 
These fifty years. 






AT THE HAWK'S WELL 




Musician in " At the Hawk's Well." iNtw W/W 



8 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

He is all doubled up with age ; 
The oldjthorn-trees are doubled so 
Among the rocks where he is climbing. 

(The Old Man stands for a moment motionless by the side 
of the stage with bowed head. He lifts his head at the sound 
of a drum tap. He goes towards the front of the stage moving 
to the taps of the drum. He crouches and moves his hands as 
if making a fire. His movements, like those of the other persons 
of the play, luggest a marionette.) <U<u^ 

f *f> 

FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 

He has made a little heap of leaves ; 



/ f Jl 

^ He lays the dry sticks on the leaves 

c And, shivering with cold, he has taken up 
The fire-stick and socket from its hole. 
He whirls it round to get a flame ; 
And now the dry sticks take the fire} 4 

Lu A j i r i 11 f^ \ *J^ 

And now the tire leaps up and shines i 
Upon the hazels and the empty well. J 

**^ J^ - -s 

<S 



MUSICIANS (singing) 

{ O wind, O salt wind, O sea wind ! 
Cries the heart, " it is time to sleep ; 
Why wander and nothing to find ? 
Better grow old and sleep." 

OLD MAN (speaking) 

Why don't you speak to me ? Why don't you say 
" Are you not weary gathering those sticks ? 
Are not your fingers cold ? >: You have not one word, 
While yesterday you spoke three times. You said : 




AT THE HAWK'S WELL 




Old Man in "At the Hawk's Well." 



to 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



y 



^ 






" The well is full of hazel leaves. " You said : 
" The wind is from the west." And after that 
? If there is rain it's likely there'll be mud. 
To-day you are as stupid as a fish, > M^X'-* 
No, worse, worse, being less lively and as dumb. 
(He goes nearer.) 







Mask for Old Man in "At the Hawk's Well." 



Your eyes are dazed and heavy. If the Sidhe 5 
.s v Must have a guardian to clean out the well 

And drive the cattle off, they might choose somebody 
I That can be pleasant and companionable 
Once in the day. Why do you stare like that ? 



. 



V 



. You had that glassy look about the eyes 

_ Last time it happened. Do you know anything ? 



****4f* 

-L{ 



AT THE HAWK'S WELL 1 1 

It is enough to drive an old man crazy 

To look all day upon these broken rocks, 

And ragged thorns, and that one stupid face, /^ u^^J^ 

And speaka^d_getjiOLanswer. -i~ t-2 

YOUNG MAN 
(who has entered through the audience during the last speech) 

Then speak to me, 

For youth is not more patient than old age ; ^> 
And though I have trod the rocks for half a day 
cannot find what I am looking for. 

^ L& 6 t -ft^ f ^ ' 

OLD MAN 

Who speaks ? 

Who comes so suddenly into this place 
[Where nothing thrives ? If I may judge by the gold 7 
^ On head and feet and glittering in your coat, 
You are not of those who hate the living world. */ 

^"t-*_x_A' ? < 

YOUNG MAN ^/tc 

& ' 

I am named Cuchulain, I am Sualtam's son. 

OLD MAN 
I have never heard that name. 

CUCHULAIN 

It is not unknown. 
I have an ancient house beyond the seaTj 




12 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

OLD MAN 






TT^a.. mischief brings you hither, you are like those 
j Who are crazy for the shedding of men's blood, 
L And for the love of women ? 



YOUNG MAN 

A rumour has led me, 
A story told over the wine towards dawn. 




Mask for Young Man in " At the Hawk's Well." 



, 











j jf 



I rose from table, found a boat, spread sail 
And with a lucky^ wind under the sail 
Crossed waves that have seemed charmed, ^and found this 
shore. 

OLD MAN 

\j 

fThere is no house to sack among these hills 
t Nor beautiful woman to be carried off. 



' 




AT THE HAWK'S WELL 13 

YOUNG MAN 

/ \ You should be native here, for that rough tongue 
|L^ ^ [_Matches the barbarous spot. You can, itjnay be, ^ v 
~4 ^ Lead me to what I seek, a well whereia 

/" t +A \ ^ ^--- ^" """ ~"" 

Three hazels drop their nuts and withered leaves, 
And where a solitary girl keeps watch 
Among grey boulders. He who drinks, they say, 
Of that miraculous water Jives for ever. 

OLD MAN 

And are there not before your eyes at the instant 
Grey boulders and a solitary girl 
And three stripped hazels ? 

YOUNG MAN 

But there is no well. 

OLD MAN 
Can you see nothing yonder ? 



YOUNG MAN 

I but see 7 






A hollow among stones half-full of leaves.J 

^" ' 
OLD MAN 

And do you think so great a gift is found 
By no more toil than spreading out a sail, 
And climbing a steep hill ? Oh, folly of youth, 
Why should that hollow place fill up for you, 






i 4 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

That will not fill for me ? I have lain in wait 
For more than fifty years to find it empty, 
Or but to find the stupid wind of the _sea ^, ? , 
Drive round the perishable leaves. 

YOUNG MAN 

So it seems 
There is some moment when the water fills it. 

^'^' 

^i> OLD MAN 

A secret moment that the holy shades 
That dance upon the desolate mountain know, 
And not a living man, and when it comes 
The water has scarce plashed before it is gone. 

YOUNG MAN 

I will stand here and wait. Why should the Juck 
Of Sualtam's son desert him now ? For never 
Have I had long to wait for anything. 

OLD MAN 

No ! Go from this accursed place, this place 
.^Belongs to me, that girl there and those others, d^^ 
Deceivers of men. 

YOUNG MAN 

And who are you who rail 
Upon those dancers that all others bless ? 




AT THE HAWK'S WELL 




Young Man in " At the Hawk's Well." 



1 6 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

OLD MAN / 



y 









* 



One whom the dancers cheat. I came like you 
When young in body and in mind, and blown 
By what had seemed to me a lucky sail. 
The well was dry, I sat upon its edge, . 



I ^ j I waited the miraculous flood, I waited 

While the years passed and withered me away 
I have snared the birds for food and eaten grass 
[/v And drunk the rain, and neither in dark nor shine ^ 
Wandered too far away to have heard the plash, 
And yet the dancers have deceived me. Thrice 
I have awakened from a sudden sleep ^L*^ ^ 

To find the stones were wet. ^ ^ A \Ar' 

tJ c /( *D \\<^ 

YOUNG MAN 

My luck is strong, 

( Y>e' It will not leave me waiting, nor will they 
^That dance among the stones put me asleep ; 
If I grow drowsy I can pierce my foot. 



OLD MAN 






No, do not pierce it, for the foot is tender, 
It feels pain much. But find your sail again 
And leave the well to me, for it belongs 

To_aU that's olcLand withered. 

, , - <*" \/ 

YOUNG MAN 

No, I stay.7 

(The Girl gives the cry of the hawk.) 
There is that bird again. 



AT THE HAWK'S WELL 






OLD MAN 

There is no bird. 

YOUNG MAN 



x 




It sounded like the sudden cry of a hawk, 

But there's no wing in sight. As I came hither 

A great grey hawk swept down out of the sky, 

And though I have good hawks, the best in the world 

I had fancied, IJiave not seen its like. It flew 

As though it would have torn me with its beak, 

Or blinded me, smiting with that great wing. 

I had to olraw my sword to drive it off, 

And after that it flew from rock to rock. 

I pelted it with stones, a good half-hour, 

And just before I had turned the big rock there 

And seen this place, it seemed to vanish away. 

Could I but find a means to bring it down 

OLD MAN 

The woman of the Sidhe herself, " 
The mountain witch, the unappeasable-shadow. ^ 
She is always flitting upon this mountain -side, 
To allure or, to destroy. When she has shown 
Herself to the fierce women of the hills 
Under that shape they offer sacrifice 
And arm for battle. There falls a curse tt 
On all who have gazed in her unmoistened eyes 
So get you gone while you have that proud step 
And confident voice, for not a man alive 
Has so much luck that he can play with it. 

c 










. 
*,^ 







-h 




1 8 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

f 

Those thatjiave long to live should fear her most, 

The old are cursed already. That curse may be 

Never to win a woman's love and keep it ; 

Or always to mix hatred in the love ; 

Or it may be that she will kill your children, 

That you will find them, their throats torn and bloody, 

Or you will be so maddened that you kill them 

With your own hand. 

YOUNG MAN 

Have you been set down there 
To threaten all who come, and scare them off ? 
You seem as dried up as the leaves and sticks, 
As though you had nojgartjnJife. *.- 

(Girl gives hawk cry again.) 

That cry ! 

There is that cry again. That woman made it, 
But why does she cry out as the hawk cries ? 

OLD MAN 

It was her mouth, and yet not she, that cried. 
It was that shadow cried behind her mouth ; 
And now I know why she has been so stupid 
All the day through, and had such heavy eyes. 
Look at her shivering now, th^jerjihkJife 
Is slippingjhraughji^rjveins. She is possessed. 
Who knows whom she will murder or betray 
Before she awakes in ignorance of it all, 
And gathers up the leaves ! But they'll be wet ; 



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"S WELL 

1 gone again ; 
)h > get you gone 
ear it bubble. 
' lt - I am old, 
will never ; 
fe and maybe 
-up. 



'hall both drink, 
drops, 



may drink the first 
drink the first 
'e looked at her 
he r eyes on us ; 
otof this world, ' .' 
r no gi r r s eyes. // - 

! of the Well throws 
ier the cl k suggests a 




eyes of a hawk? 
or witch. 



the Guardian of the 




20 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

Do what you will, I shall not leave this place 
^> Till I have grown immortal like yourself. 

n (He has sat down, the Girl has begun to dance ^ moving like 
i a hawk. The OldJ^bw deeps. The dance goes on for some 

time.) .Aro -c* *-* 'L^CJUULZ cJ: 

5 

FIRST MUSICIAN ^(singing or half-singing) 

'/O God protect me 
JkvJ :' From a horrible deathless body 

^Sliding through the veins of a sudden. 

(The dance goes on for some time. The Young Man rises 
\slowly.) 






FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 

The madness has laid hold upon him now, 
For he grows pale and staggers to his feet. 

(The dance goes on.) 

YOUNG MAN 
Run where you will, 

Grey bird, you shall be perched upon my wrist, 
Some were called queens and yet have been perched there. 

(The dance goes on.) 

FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 

I have heard water plash ; it comes, it comes ; 

It glitters among the stones and h& has heard the plash ; 

Look, he has turned his head. 

(The Hawk has gone out. The Young Man drops his 
spear as if in a dream and goes out.) 

v ^ \S L ' ' 

fc y '**r 



AT THE HAWK'S WELL 21 

MUSICIANS (singing) 

He has lost what may not be found 
Till men heap his burial mound 
And all the history ends. *f^* 

might have lived tft his ease> 




An old dog's head on his knees, 
- L Among his^children and friends.^ 

(The Old Man creeps up to the well.) 

r ;< ^ r 

OLD MAN 

The accursed shadows have deluded me, 
The stones are dark and yet the well is empty ; j 
The water flowed and emptied while I slept ; 
You have deluded me my whole life through. 
Accursed dancers, you have stolen my life. 1 
That there should be such evil in a shadow. J 

YOUNG MAN (entering) 
She has fled from me and hidden in the rocks. 

OLD MAN ^ '** 

She has but led you from the fountain. Look ! 
The stones and leaves are dark where it has flowed, 
Yet there is not a drop to drink. 

(The Musicians cry " Eofe ! " " Eofe ! " and strike gong.) 

YOUNG MAN 

What are those cries ? 

What is that sound that runs along the hill ? 
Who are they that beat a sword upon a shield ? 



22 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

OLD MAN 




has roused up the fierce women of the hills, 
Eofe, and all her troop, to take your life, 
And never till you are lying in the earth, 
Can you know rest. 

YOUNG MAN 

The clash of arms again ! 

OLD MAN 
do not go ! The mountain is accursed ; 



[Stay with me, I have nothing more to lose. 



v t) [I do not now deceive you. 



YOUNG MAN 

I will face them. 

(He goes out.no longer as if in a dream, but shouldering 
his spear and calling) 

He comes ! Cuchulain, son of Sualtam, comes ! 

(The Musicians stand up, one goes to centre with folded 
cloth. The others unfold it. While they do so they sing. 
During the singing, and while hidden by the cloth, the Old 
Man goes out. When the play is performed with Mr. Dulac's 
music., the Musicians do not rise or unfold the cloth till after 
they have sung the words " a bitter life.") 



AT THE HAWK'S WELL 23 

(Songs for the unfolding and folding of the cloth.} 

Come to me, human faces, 
Familiar memories ; ^L o^ 

I have found hateful eyes \^o^ 

Among the desolate places, ^c 

Unfaltering, unmoistenecLeyes. 

u^< 

Folly alone I cherish, 

I choose it for my share, 

Being but a mouthful of air, 

I am content to perish, ^ . ^ 

I am but a mouthful of sweet air. }<'* ' A 

lamentable shadows, 
Obscurity of strife, 

1 choose a pleasant life, 
Among indolent meadows ; 
Wisdom must live a bitter life. 

(They then fold up the cloth, again singing.) 

" The man that I praise," 

Cries out the empty well, 

" Lives all his days 

Where a hand on the bell 

Can call the milch cows 

To the comfortable door of his house. 

Who but an idiot would praise 

T v ! ! ^ \ * 



Dry stones in a well ? 

" The man that I praise," 
Cries out the leafless tree, ; 






\ 



24 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

/^Has married and stays 
By an old hearth, and he 
On naught has set store 
But children and dogs on the floor. 
Who but an idiot would praise 
A withered tree ? " 

(They go out.) ^ ' 






THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 

Cl 



I 
</ 






L C 



PERSONS OF THE PLAY 

THREE MUSICIANS (their faces made up to resemble masks). 

THE GHOST OF GUCHULAIN (wearing a mask). 

THE FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN (wearing a mask). 

EMER \ (masked, or their faces made up to resemble 

EITHNE INGUBA I masks). 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE (wearing a mask). 

Enter Musicians, who are dressed and made up as in " At 
the Hawk's Well" They have the same musical instruments, 
which can either be already upon the stage or be brought in 
by the First Musician before he stands in the centre with the 
cloth between his hands, or by a player when the cloth is un- 
folded. The stage as before can be against the wall of any room, 
and the black cloth is used as in "At the Hawk's Well." 

(Song for the folding and unfolding of the cloth.) 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

A woman's beauty is like a white 
Frail bird, like a white sea-bird alone J 
r V>^ At' daybreak after stormy night 

Between two furrows upon the ploughed land : 



> 



J> 






28 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

\yA A sudden storm and it was thrown 

jr\ Between dark furrows upon the ploughed land. 
How many centuries spent 
The sedentary soul 
In toils of measurement 
Beyond eagle or mole, 
Beyond hearing or seeing, 
Or Archimedes guess, 
To raise into being 
That loveliness ? 





A strange unserviceable thing, 
- A fragile, exquisite, pale shell, J 
That the vast troubled waters bring j 

To the loud sands before day has broken. J 
The storm arose and suddenly fell 
Amid the dark before day had broken. 
What death ? what discipline ? 
What bonds no man could unbind 
Being imagined within 
The labyrinth of the mind, 
What pursuing or fleeing, 
"What wounds, what bloody press 
Dragged into being 
This loveliness ? 



(When the cloth is folded a gainst he Musicians take their 
place against the wall. The folding of the cloth shows on one 
side of the stage the curtained bed or litter on which lies a 
man in his^ra^i^chthes. He wears an heroic mask. Another 
man with exactly similar clothes and mask Crouches near the 
front. Emer ts sitting beside the bed.) 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 
FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 



29 



I call before the eyes a roof 

With cross-beams darkened by smoke ; 

A fisher's net hangs from a beam, 

A long oar lies against the wall. 

I call up a poor fisher's house ; 

A man lies dead or swooning. 

That amorous man, 

That amorous, violent man, renowned Cuchulain, 

Queen Emer at his side. 

At her own bidding all the rest have gone ; 

But now one comes on hesitating feet, _ 

Young Eithne Inguba, CuchulahVs mistress. 

She stands a moment in the open door, 

Beyond the open door the bitter sea,"] 

The shining, bitter sea, is crying outj 
^ (singing) White shell, white wing ! 

I will not choose for my friend 

A frail^ unserviceable thing 

That drifts and dreams, and but knows 

That waters are without end 
\ And that wind blows. 



J 



EMER (speaking) 

Come hither, come sit down beside the bed ; 
You need not be afraid, for I myself 
Sent for you, Eithrie Inguba. 

EITHNE INGUBA 

No, Madam, 
I have too deeply wronged you to sit there. 






3 o FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

EMER 

Of all the people in the world we two, 
And we alone, may watch together here, 
Because we have loved him best. 

EITHNE INGUBA 

And is he dead ? 

EMER 

' < 

[Although they have dressed him out in his grave-clothes 

And stretched his limbs, Cuchulain is not dead ; 






very heavens when that day's at hand, 
So that his death may not lack ceremony, 

throw out fires, and the earth grow red with blood. 
There shall not be a scullion but foreknows it 
Like the world's end. 



EITHNE INGUBA 

^ f 

How did he come to this ? 



' <i 



EMER 



Towards(noon)in the assembly of the kings 
He met with one who seemed a while most dear. 
The kings stood round ; some quarrel was blown up ; 
He drove him out and killed him on the shore 
At Baile's tree, and he whojvas so killed 
Was his own son begot on/some wild woman^ 
When he was young, or scfl have heard it said ; 
And thereupon, knowing what man he had killed, 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 31 



And being mad with sorrow, he ran out ; 

And after, 9 his middle in the foam 

With shield before him and with sword in hand, 

He fought the_deathless sea. The kings looked on 

And not a king dared stretch an arm, or even 

Dared call his name, but all stood wondering 

In that dumb stupor like cattle in a gale, 

Until at last, as though he had fixed his eyes 

On a new enemy, he waded out 

Until the water had swept over him ; 

But the waves washed his senseless image up 

And laid it at this door. 

EITHNE INGUBA 

How pale he looks ! 

EMER 
He is not dead. 

EITHNE INGUBA 

You have not kissed his lips 
Nor laid his head upon your breast. 

EMER 

It may be 




pAn imas;e has been put into his place. 
A sea-borne lo bewitched into his li 



log bewitched into is likeness, 
Or some stark horseman grown too old to ride 
Among the troops of Mananan, Son of the Sea, 7 
Now that his joints are stiff. 






' 



32 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

v^^ 



EITHNE INGUBA 



Cry out his name. vv\ ' 

All that are taken from our sight, they say, f^^ 
Loiter amid the scenery of their lives 
For certain hours or days, and should he hear 
He might, being angry, drive the changeling out. 



EMER 

It is hard to make them hear amid their darkness, | / ^ t ^w* 

And it is long since I could call him home ; t~ J 

I am but his wife, but if you cry aloud 

With that sweet voice that is so dear to him"] VO\LJL ^ 

He cannot help but listen. ^ . 

V'V-^ , 

EITHNE INGUBA 

He loves me best, 

Being his newest love, but in the end 
Will love the woman best who loved him first ~i 

And loved him through the years when love seemed lost.J */ 

EMER ^ t^^-u 

L I have that hope, thejiojxe that some day^somewhere> 
We'll sit together atjhejigarlh again. 

EITHNE INGUBA ,^ ^*^~, s ^ 
fUi^*") if* 

Women like me, the violent hour passed over, 
Are flung into some corner like old nut-shells. 
Cuchulain, listen. 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 33 

EMER 
No, not yet, for first 

I U&~ ^ j^L^ 

I'll cover up his face to hide the sea ; J ^ <^*~ 
^And throw new logs upon the hearth and stir 
The half-burnt logs until they break in flame. 
"Old Mananan's unbridled horses come 
Out of the sea, and on their backs his horsemen ; 
But all the enchantments of the dreaming foam _ 
, s, Dread the hearth-fire. 

JL/ 1 S .. ' j 

(She pulls the curtains of the bed so as to hide the sick 
man s face ) that the actor may change his mask unseen. She 
goes to one side of platform and moves her hand as though 
putting logs on a fire and stirring it into a blaze. 'While she 
makes these movements the MusicianTplay^ marking the move- 
ments with drum and flute perhaps. 

Having finished ^she stands beside the imaginary fire at a 
distance from Cuchulain and Eithne Inguba.) 

Call on Cuchulain now. 



EITHNE INGUBA 
Can you not hear my voice ? 



EMER 

Bend over him ; 

Call out (dear secrets till you have touched his heart 
1U If he lies there ; and if he is not there 

Till you have made him jealous. 

V 

EITHNE INGUBA 

Cuchulain, listen. 
D 



^ / 
i^-" 
'i ^ 

' v,<r* 

<&' 
~l> 


















34 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

EMER 

*- 

Those words sound timidly ; to be afraid 
Because his wife is but three paces off, 
When there is so great a need, were but to prove 
The man that chose you_made but a poor choice : 
We're butjwo women .struggling wilb_lh e sea. 

EITHNE INGUBA 

my beloved, pardon me, that I 

Have been ashamed and you in so great need. 

1 have never sent a message or called out, 
Scarce had a longing for your company 

But you have known and come ; and if indeed 

You are lying there, stretch out your arms and speak ; 

Open your mouth and speak, for to this hour 
J>My company has made you talkative. 

What ails your tongue, or what has closed your ears ? 

Our passion had not chilled when we were parted 

On the pale shore under the breaking dawn. 
^He cannot speak : or else his ears are closed 

And no sound reaches him. 1 



- \^ 
^ J/ 

^ k V, . ( t 












EMER 

Then kiss that imaj 

The pressure of your mouth upon his mouth 
May reach him where he is. 

EITHNE INGUBA (starting hack) 

It is no man. 

I felt sqrne evil thing that dcied_myjieart 
When my lips^touched it. 



^^ 
" Liv* 

fr** 

V 1 ^ 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 35 

EMER 

No, his body stirs ; 

The pressure of your mouth has called him home ; 
He has thrown the changeling out. 

EITHNE INGUBA (going further off) 

Look at that arm ; 
That arm is withered to the very socket. -7^ 

EMER (going up to the bed) 
What do you come for ; and from where ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

I have come 
FrqmJVlaaanan's court upon a bridleless horse. 

EMER 

What one among the Sidhe has dared to lie 
Upon Cuchulain's bed and take his image ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 



iu not the man thaxBricriu, II J 
Maker of discord among gods and men, 
Called Bricriu of the Sidhe. 

EMER 

Come for what purpose ? 



36 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

(sitting up parting curtain and showing its distorted j ace > 
as Eithne Inguba goes out] 

I show my face and everything he loves 
j Must fly away. 

EMER 

You people of the wind 

Are full of lying speech and mockery : ' ""l^ **? 
I havejiot fled^Qur face. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 
/a * .t/ **- You are not loved. 



EMER 

/ And therefore have no dread to meet your eyes 
And to demand him of you. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

For that I have come. 
You have but to payjthe price and he is free. 

EMER 
Do the Sidhe bargain ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

When they would free a captive 
They take in ransom a less valued thing. 
The fisher when some knowledgeable man 
Restores to him his wife, or son, or daughter, 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 37 

Knows he must lose a boat or net, or it may be 

The cow that gives his children milk ; and some 

Have offered their own lives. I do not ask 

Your life, or any valuable thing ; 

You spoke but now of the mere chance that some day 

You'd be the apple of his eye again 

When old and ailing, but renounce that chance 

And he shall live again. 

EMER 

I do not question 

But you have brought ill luck on all he loves ; 
And now, because I am thrown beyond your power 
Unless your words are lies, you come to bargain. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

You loved your mastery, when but newly married, 
And I love mine for all my withered arm ; 
You have but to put yourself into that power ^ 

And he shall live again. 

EMER 
No, never, never. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 
You dare no t_be accursed, yet he hasjiarecL 




I have but two joyous thoughts, two things I prize, 
A hope, a memory, and now you claim that hope. 






3 8 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

He'll never sit beside you at the hearth 
Or make old bones, but die of wounds and toil 
On some far shore or mountain, a strange woman I' 
Beside his mattress. 

EMER 

You ask for my one hope 
That you may bring your curse on all about him. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

YouVe watched his loves and you have not been jealous 
Knowing that he would tire, but dojLh&se_tire 
That love the Sidhe ? M>, '^AJL. 

Cc<^- J/u.-f , ^^^ ^"^ ' 

EMER 

What dancer of the Sidhe, 
AC /> What creature of the reeling moon has pursued him ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

I have but to touch your eyes and give them sight ; 
But stand at my left side. A^g /<: 

(He touches her eyes 'with his lejt hand^ the right being 
withered.} 

EMER 

My husband there. 






THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 39 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

But out of reach I have dissolved the dark j 

That hid him from your eyes, but not that other // ^ ^ 

That's hidden you from his. 

EMER 

Husband, husband ! 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

Be silent, he is but a phantom now 

And he can neither touch, nor hear, nor see ; 

The longing and the cries have drawn him hither. 

He heard no sound, heard no articulate sound ; 

They could but banish rest, and make him dream, 

And in that dream, as do all dreaming shades 

Before they are accustomed to their freedom, 

He has taken his familiar form ; and yet 

He crouches there not knowing where he is u> s. T- 

Or at whose side he is crouched. ' * ^ 

(A Woman of the Sidhe has entered and stands a little 
inside the door.} 

EMER 

Who is this woman ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

She has hurried from the Country-Under-Wave 
And dreamed herself into that shape that he 
May glitter in her basket ; for the Sidhe 
Are dextrous fishers and they fish for men 

^- ' - * ' - J / / 

With dreams upon the hook. 



4 o 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

EMER 

And so that woman 

Has hid herself in this disguise and made 
Herself into a lie. L 






FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

A dream is body ; 

The dead move ever towards a dreamless youth 
And when they dream no more return no more ; 
And those more holy shades that never lived 
But visit you in dreams. 

EMER 

I know her sort. 

They find our men asleep, weary with war, 
Or weary with the chase, and kiss their lips 
And drop their hair upon them ; from that hour 
T)ur men, who yet knew nothing of it all, 
Are lonely, and when at fall of night we press 
Their hearts upon our hearts their hearts are cold. 

(She draws a knife from her girdle.) 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

And so you think to wound her with a knife. 

She has an airy body. Look and listen ; 

I have not given you eyes and ears for nothing. 

(The Woman of the Sid he moves round the crouching Ghost 
of Cue hu lain at front of stage in a dance that grows gradually 
quicker, as he slowly awakes. At moments she may drop her 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 



41 



hair upon his head but she does not kiss him. She is accom- \ ^ 
panted by string and flute and drum. Her nw^ arid clothes 

must suggest gold or bronze or brass or stiver \ so that she seems 

\ ' "~^ 
more an idol than a human being^-^M^suggestion may be 

repeated in her movements. Her hair, too, must keep the 
metoIBsLJUggestion.) 

GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

/ Who is it stands before me there 
\ Shedding such light from limb and hair 
j As when the moon, complete at last 
< With every labouring crescent past, 

) And Irgidy w^h eYtreme d^jghfj 1 




^^ 



.vO 

... IT] 
'i fc^i 



Flings out upon the fifteenth night ? 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

^Because I long I am not complete. 

What pulled your Tiands about your feet 
^ n< ^ y our head down upon your knees, 
And hid your face ? 



GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

Old memories 

A dying boy, with handsome face 
Upturned upon a beaten place ; 
A sacred yew-tree on a strand ; J 
A woman that held in steady hand, 
In all the happiness of her youth 
Before her man had broken troth, 
A burning wisp to light the door ; 
And many a round or crescent more 

J 









FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 




I f < 



Dead men and women. Memories 
Have pulled my head upon my knees. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

Could you that have loved many a woman 
That did not reach beyond the human, 
Lacking a day to be complete, 
Love one that though her heart can beat, 
s it but by an hour or so ? 



GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

I know you now, for long ago 
I met you on the mountain side, 
Beside a well that seemed long dry, 
Beside old thorns where the hawk flew. 
I held out arms and hands ; but you, 
That now seem friendly, fled away 
Half woman and half bird of prey. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

Hold out your arms and hands again ; 
You were not so dumbfounded when 
I was that bird of prey, and yet 
i now. 



GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

I am not 

The young and passionate man I was, 
And though that brilliant light surpass 
All crescent forms, my memories 
Weigh down my hands, abash my eyes. 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 



43 



Then kiss my mouth. Though memory 
Be beauty's bitterest enemy 
I have no dread, for at my kiss 
Memory on the moment vanishes 
Nothing but bqautv can remain 






GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

And shall I never know again 
Intricacies of blind remorse ? 



sUy 

V A J ' JL ( I 1 u it v f 



/fa 




WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

Time shall seem to stay his course ; 

When your mouth and my mouth meet 

All my round shall be complete 

Imagining all its circles run ; 

And there shall be oblivion 

Even to quench Cuchulain's drouth, 

Even to still that heart. 

GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

Your mouth. 

(They are about to kiss, he turns away.) 
O Emer, Emer. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

So then it is she 
Made you impurejwith memory. 




44 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

Still in that dream I see you stand, 
A burning wisp in your right hand, 
To wait my coming to the house, 

As when our parents married us. -x~^ 

r 



WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

Being among the dead you love her 
That valued every slut above her 
While you still lived. 

GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

O my lost Emer. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

And there is not a loose-tongued schemer 
But could draw you, if not dead, 
From her table and her bed. 
But what could make you fit to wive 
With flesh and blood, being born to liveH 
Where no one speaks of broken troth, 
For all have washed out of their eyes 
Wind-blown dirt of their memories 
To improve their sight ? 

GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

Your mouth, your mouth. 

(Their lips approach but Cuchulain turns away as JLmer 
speaks.} 





THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 45 

EMER 

< If but the dead will set him free 

That I may speak with him at whiles 
sslBy^the hearth-stone, I am content : ^ 

Content that he shall turn on me s } 

Eyes that the cold moon, or the vague sea, 

Or what I know not's^made indifferent. 

GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

What a wise silence has fallen in this dark ! 
I know you now in all your ignorance 
Of all whereby a lover's quiet is rent. 
What dread so great as that he should forget 
The least chance sight or sound, or scratch or mark 
On an old door, or frail bird heard and seen / 

In the incredible clcarjight love cast 
All round about her some forlorn lost day ? ^/ 

That face, though fine enough, is a fool's face 
Andjhere^i folly^n the deathless Sidhe 
~~~ Beyond man s reach. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

I told you to forget 

After my fashion ; you would have none of it ; 
So now you may forget in a man's fashion. 
There's an unbridled horse at the sea's edge ; 
Mount ; it will carry you in an eye's wink 
To where the King of Country-Under-Wave, 
Old Mananan, nods above the board and moves 



46 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

His chessmen in a dream. Demand your life 
And come again on the unbridled horse. 



GHOST OF CUCHULAIN 

Forgive me those rough words. How could you know 
That man is held to those whom he has loved 
By pain they gave, or pain that he has given, 
Intricacies of pain. 





WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

I am ashamed 

That being of the deathless shades I chose 
A man so knojted to impurity. ^ 

(The Ghost of Cuchulam goes out.] 



WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 
(to Figure of Cuchulatri) 

(To you that have no living light, but dropped 
JFrom a last leprous"crescent of the moon, 
(I owe it all. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

Because you have failed 
I must forego your thanks, l<that took pity 
Upon your love and carried out your plan 
Ta_tangk all his life and make it nothing 
That jiejnight turn to you. 



"' 



I 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 47 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

Was it from pity 
You taught the woman to prevail against me ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 
You know mjL~nature by what name I am called. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

Was it from pity that you hid the truth 
That men are bound to women by the wrongs 
They do or suffer ? 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

You know what being I am. 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 

I have been mocked and disobeyed your power 
Was more to you than my good-will, and now 
I'll have you learn what my ill-will can do ; 
I lay you under bonds upon the instant 
To stand before your King and face the charge 
And take the punishment. 

FIGURE OF CUCHULAIN 

I'll stand there first, 
And tell my story first, and Mananan 

Knows that his own harsh sea made my heart cold. 

f * 



48 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

WOMAN OF THE SIDHE 
My horse is there and shall outrun your horse. 

(The Figure of Cuchulain falls back^ the Woman of the 
Sidhe goes out. Drum taps^ music resembling horse hoofs.) 

EITHNE INGUBA (entering quickly) 

I heard the beat of hoofs, but saw no horse, 
And then came other hoofs, and after that 
I heard low angry cries and thereupon 
I ceased to be afraid. 

EMER 
Cuchulain wakes. 

(The figure turns round. It once more wears the heroic 
mask.) 

CUCHULAIN 

I Your arms, your arms. O Eithne Inguba, 

I I have been in some strange place and am afraidj 

(The First Musician comes to the front of stage., the others 
from each side and unfold the cloth singing.) 

(Song for the unfolding and folding of the cloth.) 
THE MUSICIANS 

Why does your heart beat thus ? 

Plain to be understood 

I have met in a man's house 

A statue of solitude, 

Moving there and walking ; 

Its strange heart beating fast 



THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 49 

For all our talking. 

O still that heart at last. 

, O bitter reward 

Of many a tragic tomb ! 
And we though astonished are dumb 
And give but a sigh and a word, 
A passing word. 

Although the door be shut 
And all seem well enough, 
Although wide world hold not 
A man but will give you his love 
The moment he has looked at you, 
He that has loved the best 
May turn from a statue 
His too human breast. 

O bitter reward 

Of many a tragic tomb ! 

And we though astonished are dumb 

Or give but a sigh and a word, 

A passing word. 

What makes your heart so beat ? 
Is there no man at your side ? 
When beauty is complete 
Your own thought will have died 
And danger not be diminished ; 
Dimmed at three-quarter light 
When moon's round is finished 
The stars are out of sight. 



50 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

O bitter reward 

Of many a tragic tomb ! 

And we though astonished are dumb 

Or give but a sigh and a word, 

A passing word. 

(When the cloth is folded again the stage is bare.) 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 



5' 



o 



PERSONS OF THE PLAY 

THREE MUSICIANS (their faces made up to resemble masks], 

A YOUNG MAN. 

A STRANGER (wearing a mask). 

A YOUNG GIRL (wearing a mask}. 

Time 1916. 

The stage is any bare place in a room close to the wall. A 
screen, with a pattern of mountain and sky, can stand against 
the wall, or a curtain with a like pattern hang upon it, but the 
pattern must only symbolize or suggest. One musician enters 
and then two others ; the first stands singing, as in preceding 
plays, while the others take their places. Then all three sit 
down against the wall by their instruments, which are already 
there a drum, a zither, and a flute. Or they unfold a cloth 
as in "At the Hawk's Well," while the instruments are 
carried in. 

(Song for the folding and unfolding of the cloth.) 

FIRST MUSICIAN (or all three musicians, singing) 

Why does my heart beat so ? 

Did not a shadow pass ? 

It passed but a moment ago. 

53 



54 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

Who can have trod in the grass ? 
What rogue is night-wandering ? 
Have not old writers said 
That dizzy dreams can spring 
From the dry bones of the dead ? 
And many a night it seems 
That all the valley fills 
With those fantastic dreams. 
They overflow the hills, 
So passionate is a shade, 
Like wine that fills to the top 
A grey-green cup of jade, 
Or maybe an agate cup. 

(The three Musicians are now seated by the drum., flute ^ and 
zither at the back of the stage. The First Musician speaks.} 

The hour before dawn and the moon covered up ; 
The little village of Abbey is covered up ; 
The little narrow trodden way that runs 
From the white road to the Abbey of Corcomroe 
Is covered up ; and all about the hills 
Are like a circle of Agate or of Jade. 
Somewhere among great rocks on the scarce grass 
Birds cry, they cry their loneliness. 
Even the sunlight can be lonely here, 
Even hot noon is lonely. I hear a footfall 
A young man with a lantern comes this way. 
He seems an Aran fisher, for he wears 
The flannel bawneen and the cow-hide shoe. 
He stumbles wearily, and stumbling prays. 

(A young man enters^ praying in Irish.} 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 55 

Once more the birds cry in their loneliness, 

But now they wheel about our heads ; and now 

They have dropped on the grey stone to the north-east. 

(A man and a girl, in the costume of a past time, come in. 
They wear heroic masks.) 

YOUNG MAN (raising his lantern) 

Who is there ? I cannot see what you are like, 
Come to the light. 

STRANGER 
But what have you to fear ? 

YOUNG MAN 

And why have you come creeping through the dark. 
(The Girl blows out lantern.) 

The wind has blown my lantern out. Where are you ? 

I saw a pair of heads against the sky 

And lost them after ; but you are in the right, 

I should not be afraid in County Clare ; 

And should be, or should not be have no choice, 

I have to put myself into your hands, 

Now that my candle's out. 

STRANGER 

You have fought in Dublin ? 

YOUNG MAN 

I was in the Post Office, and if taken 
I shall be put against a wall and shot. 



56 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

STRANGER 

You know some place of refuge, have some plan 
Or friend who will come to meet you ? 

YOUNG MAN 

I am to lie 

At daybreak on the mountain and keep watch 
Until an Aran coracle puts in 
At Muckanish or at the rocky shore 
Under Finvarra, but would break my neck 
If I went stumbling there alone in the dark. 

STRANGER 

We know the pathways that the sheep tread out, 

And all the hiding-places of the hills, 

And that they had better hiding-places once. 

YOUNG MAN 

You'd say they had better before English robbers 
Cut down the trees or set them upon fire 
For fear their owners might find shelter there. 
What is that sound ? 

STRANGER 

An old horse gone astray. 
He has been wandering on the road all night. 

YOUNG MAN 

I took him for a man and horse. Police 
Are out upon the roads. In the late Rising 
I think there was no man of us but hated 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 57 

To fire at soldiers who but did their duty 
And were not of our race, but when a man 
Is born in Ireland and of Irish stock, 
When he takes part against us 

STRANGER 

I will put you safe, 

No living man shall set his eyes upon you ; 
I will not answer for the dead. 

YOUNG MAN 

The dead ? 

STRANGER 

For certain days the stones where you must lie 
Have in the hour before the break of day 
Been haunted. 

YOUNG MAN 
But I was not born at midnight. 

STRANGER 

Many a man that was born in the full daylight 
Can see them plain, will pass them on the high-road 
Or in the crowded market-place of the town, 
And never know that they have passed. 

YOUNG MAN 

My Grandam 

Would have it they did penance everywhere ; 
Some lived through their old lives again. 



58 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

STRANGER 

In a dream ; 

And some for an old scruple must hang spitted 
Upon the swaying tops of lofty trees ; 
Some are consumed in fire, some withered up 
By hail and sleet out of the wintry North, 
And some but live through their old lives again. 

YOUNG MAN 

Well, let them dream into what shape they please 
And fill waste mountains with the invisible tumult 
Of the fantastic conscience. I have no dread ; 
They cannot put me into jail or shoot me, 
And seeing that their blood has returned to fields, 
That have grown red from drinking blood like mine, 
They would not if they could betray. 

STRANGER 

This pathway 

Runs to the ruined Abbey of Corcomroe ; 
The Abbey passed, we are soon among the stone 
And shall be at the ridge before the cocks 
Of Aughanish or Bailevelehan 
Or grey Aughtmana shake their wings and cry. 

(They go round the stage once.) 

FIRST MUSICIAN (speaking) 

They've passed the shallow well and the flat stone 
Fouled by the drinking cattle, the narrow lane 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 59 

Where mourners for five centuries have carried 

Noble or peasant to his burial ; 

An owl is crying out above their heads. 

(singing) 

Why should the heart take fright? 
What sets it beating so ? 
The bitter sweetness of the night 
Has made it but a lonely thing. 
Red bird of MarchTTjegin to crow, 
Up with the neck and clap the wing, 
Red cock, and crow. 

( They go round the stage once. The First Musician speaks.") 

And now they have climbed through the long grassy field 
And passed the ragged thorn trees and the gap 
In the ancient hedge ; and the tomb-nested owl 
At the foot's level beats with a vague wing. 

(singing) 

My head is in a cloud ; 
I'd let the whole world go ; 
My rascal heart is proud 
Remembering and remembering. 
Red bird of March, begin to crow, 
Up with the neck and clap the wing, 
Red cock, and crow. 

( They go round the .stage once. The. First Musician speaks.") 

They are among the stones above the ash 
Above the briar and thorn and the scarce grass ; 
Hidden amid the shadow far below them 
The cat-headed bird is crying out. 



60 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

(singing) 

The dreamingbqnes cry out 
Because the nigEt winds blow 
And heaven's a cloudy blot ; 
Calamity can have its fling. 
Red bird of March begin to crow, 
Up with the neck and clap the wing, 
Red cock, and crow. 

STRANGER 

We're almost at the summit and can rest. 
The road is a faint shadow there ; and there 
The Abbey lies amid its broken tombs. 
In the old days we should have heard a bell 
Calling the monks before day broke to pray ; 
And when the day has broken on the ridge, 
The crowing of its cocks. 

YOUNG MAN 

Is there no house 

Famous for sanctity or architectural beauty 
In Clare or Kerry, or in all wide Connacht 
The enemy has not unroofed ? 

STRANGER 

Close to the altar 

Broken by wind and frost and worn by time 
Doriogh O'Brien has a tomb, a name in Latin. 
He wore fine clothes and knew the secrets of women, 
But he rebelled against the King of Thomond 
And died in his youth. 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 61 

YOUNG MAN 

And why should he rebel ? 
The King of Thomond was his rightful master. 
It was men like Donogh who made Ireland weak 
My curse on all that troop, and when I die 
Til leave my body, if I have any choice, 
Far from his ivy tod and his owl ; have those 
Who, if your tale is true, work out a penance 
Upon the mountain-top where I am to hide, 
Come from the Abbey graveyard ? 

YOUNG GIRL 

They have not that luck, 

But are more lonely ; those that are buried there, 
Warred in the heat of the blood ; if they were rebels 
Some momentary impulse made them rebels 
Or the commandment of some petty king 
Who hated Thomond. "' Being but common sinners, 
-No callers in of the alien from oversea, 
They and their enemies of Thomond's party 
Mix in a brief dream battle above their bones ; 
Or make one drove ; or drift in amity ; 
Or in the hurry of the heavenly round 
Forget their earthly names. These are alone 
Being accursed. 

YOUNG MAN 

But if what seems is true 
And there are more upon the other side 
Than on this side of death, many a ghost 
Must meet them face to face and pass the word 
Even upon this grey and desolate hill. 



62 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

YOUNG GIRL 

Until this hour no ghost or living man 
Has spoken though seven centuries have run 
Since they, weary of life and of men's eyes, 
Flung down their bones in some forgotten place 
Being accursed. 

YOUNG MAN 

I have heard that there are souls 
Who, having sinned after a monstrous fashion, 
Take on them, being dead, a monstrous image 
To drive the living, should they meet its face, 
Crazy, and be a terror to the dead. 

YOUNG GIRL 

But these 

Were comely even in their middle life 
And carry, now that they are dead, the image 
Of their first youth, for it was in that youth 
Their sin began. 

YOUNG MAN 

I have heard of angry ghosts 
Who wander in a wilful solitude. 

YOUNG GIRL 

These have no thought but love ; nor joy 
But that upon the instant when their penance 
Draws to its height and when two hearts are wrung 
Nearest to breaking, if hearts of shadows break, 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 63 

His eyes can mix withvhers ; nor any pang 
That is so bitter as that double glance, 
Being accursed. 

YOUNG MAN 

But what is this strange penance 
That when their eyes have met can wring them most ? 

YOUNG GIRL 
Though eyes can meet, their lips can never meet. 

YOUNG MAN 

And yet it seems they wander side by side. 

But doubtless you would say that when lips meet 

And have not living nerves, it is no meeting. 

YOUNG GIRL 

Although they have no blood, or living nerves, 

Who once lay warm and live the live -long night 

In one another's arms, and know their part 

In life, being now but of the people of dreams, 

Is a dream's part ; although they are but shadows, 

Hovering between a thorn tree and a stone, 

Who have heaped up night on winged night ; although 

No shade however harried and consumed 

Would change his own calamity for theirs, 

Their manner of life were blessed could their lips 

A moment meet ; but when he has bent his head 

Close to her head, or hand would, slip in hand, 

The memory of their crime flows up between 

And drives them apart. 



64 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANGERS 

YOUNG MAN 

The memory of a crime- 
He took her from a husband's house it may be, 
But does the penance for a passionate sin 
Last for so many centuries ? 

YOUNG GIRL 

No, no ; 

The man she chose, the man she was chosen by 
Cared little and cares little from whose house 
They fled towards dawn amid the flights of arrows, 
Or that it was a husband's and a king's ; 
And how, if that were all, could she lack friends, 
On crowded roads or on the unpeopled hill ? 
Helen herself had opened wide the door 
Where night by night she dreams herself awake 
And gathers to her breast a dreaming man. 

YOUNG MAN 

What crime can stay so in the memory ? 
What crime can keep apart the lips of lovers 
Wandering and alone ? 

YOUNG GIRL 

Her king and lover 

Was overthrown in battle by her husband 
And for her sake and for his own, being blind 
And bitter and bitterly in love, he brought 
A foreign army from across the sea. 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 65 

YOUNG MAN 

You speak of Dermot and of Dervorgilla 
Who brought the Norman in ? 

YOUNG GIRL 

Yes, yes, I spoke 

Of that most miserable, most accursed pair 
Who sold their country into slavery, and yet 
They were not wholly miserable and accursed 
If somebody of their race at last would say : 
* I have forgiven them." 

YOUNG MAN 

Oh, never, never 
Shall Dermot and Dervorgilla be forgiven. 

YOUNG GIRL 

If some one of their race forgave at last 
Lip would be pressed on lip. 

YOUNG MAN 

Oh, never, never 

Shall Dermot and Dervorgilla be forgiven. 
You have told your story well, so well indeed 
I could not help but fall into the mood 
And for a while believe that it was true 
Or half believe ; but better push on now. 
The horizon to the East is growing bright. 
(They go round stage once. The musicians play.) 

So here we're on the summit. I can see 
The Aran Islands, Connemara Hills, 



66 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

And Galway in the breaking light ; there too 

The enemy has toppled roof and gable ; 

And torn the panelling from ancient rooms ; 

What generations of old men had known 

Like their own hands, and children wondered at, 

Has boiled a trooper's porridge. That town had lain, 

But for the pair that you would have me pardon, 

Amid its gables and its battlements 

Like any old admired Italian town ; 

For though we have neither coal, nor iron ore, 

To make us wealthy and corrupt the air, 

Our country, if that crime were un (Committed, 

Had been most beautiful. Why do you dance ? 

Why do you gaze, and with so passionate eyes, 

One on the other ; and then turn away, 

Covering your eyes, and weave it in a dance ? 

Who are you ? what are you ? you are not natural. 

YOUNG GIRL 
Seven hundred years our lips have never met. 

YOUNG MAN 

Why do you look so strangely at one another, 
So strangely and so sweetly ? 

YOUNG GIRL 

Seven hundred years. 

YOUNG MAN 

So strangely and so sweetly. All the ruin, 
All, all their handiwork is blown away 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 67 

As though the mountain air had blown it away 

Because their eyes have met. They cannot hear, 

Being folded up and hidden in their dance. 

The dance is changing now. They have dropped their eyes, 

They have covered up their eyes as though their hearts 

Had suddenly been broken never, never 

Shall Dermot and Dervorgilla be forgiven. 

They have drifted in the dance from rock to rock. 

They have raised their hands as though to snatch the sleep 

That lingers always in the abyss of the sky 

Though they can never reach it. A cloud floats up 

And covers all the mountain head in a moment ; 

And now it lifts and they are swept away. 

(The stranger and the young girl go out.) 

I had almost yielded and forgiven it all 

This is indeed a place of terrible temptation. 

(The Musicians he gin unfolding and folding a black cloth. 
The First Musician comes forward to the front of the stage, at 
the centre. He holds the cloth before him. The other two come 
one on either side and unfold it. They afterwards fold it up 
in the same way. While it is unfolded^ the Toung Man leaves 
the stage.} 

(Songs for the unfolding and folding of the cloth.) 

THE MUSICIANS (singing) 
i 

At the grey round of the hill 
Music of a lost kingdom 
Runs, runs and is suddenly still. 
The winds out of Clare-Galway 
Carry it : suddenly it is still. 



68 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

I have heard in the night air 
A wandering airy music ; 
And moidered in that snare 
A man is lost of a sudden, 
In that sweet wandering snare. 

What finger first began 

Music of a lost kingdom ? 

They dream that laughed in the sun. 

Dry bones that dream are bitter. 

They dream and darken our sun. 

Those crazy fingers play 
, A wandering airy music ; 
Our luck is withered away. 
And wheat in the wheat-ear withered, 
And the wind blows it away. 



ii 

My heart ran wild when it heard 
The curlew cry before dawn 
And the eddying cat-headed bird ; 
But now the night is gone. 
I have heard from far below 
/The strong March birds a-crow, 
/ Stretch neck and clap the wing, 
(I Red cocks, and crow. 



CALVARY 



PERSONS OF THE PLAY 

THREE MUSICIANS (their faces made up to resemble masks). 
CHRIST (wearing a mask). 
LAZARUS (wearing a mask). 
JUDAS (wearing a mask). 

THREE ROMAN SOLDIERS (their faces masked or made up to 
resemble masks). 

At the beginning of the play the First Musician comes to 
the front of the bare place, round three sides of which the 
audience are seated \ with a folded cloth hanging from his joined 
hands. Two other musicians come, as in the preceding plays, 
one from either side, and unfold the cloth so that it shuts out the 
stage, and then fold it again, singing and moving rhythmically. 
They do the samz at the end of the play, which enables the 
players to leave the stage unseen. 

(Song for the folding and the unfolding of the cloth.) 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

Motionless under the moon-beam, 
Up to his feathers in the stream, 
Although fish leap, the white heron 
Shivers in a dumbfounded dream. 

71 



72 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

SECOND MUSICIAN 
God has not died for the white heron. 

THIRD MUSICIAN 

Although half famished he'll not dare 
Dip or do anything but stare 
Upon the glittering image of a heron, 
That now is lost and now is there. 

SECOND MUSICIAN 
God has not died for the white heron. 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

But that the full is shortly gone 
And after that is crescent moon, 
It's certain that the moon-crazed heron 
Would be but fishes' diet soon. 

SECOND MUSICIAN 
God has not died for the white heron. 

(The three musicians are now seated by the drum^flute^ and 
zither at the back of stage.} 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

The road to Calvary, and I beside it 

Upon an ancient stone. Good Friday's come, 

The day whereon Christ dreams His passion through. 

He climbs up hither but as a dreamer climbs. 



CALVARY 73 

The cross that but exists because He dreams it 
Shortens His breath and wears away His strength. 
And now He stands amid a mocking crowd, 
Heavily breathing. 

(A player with the mask of Christ and carrying a cross has 
entered and now stands leaning upon the cross.) 

Those that are behind 

Climb on the shoulders of the men in front 
To shout their mockery : " Work a miracle," 
Cries one, and " Save yourself " ; another cries, 
" Call on your father now before your bones 
Have been picked bare by the great desert birds " ; 
Another cries : " Call out with a loud voice 
And tell him that his son is cast away 
Amid the mockery of his enemies." 

(Singing) 

Oh, but the mockers' cry 
Makes my heart afraid, 
As though a flute of bone 
Taken from a heron's thigh, 
A heron crazed by the moon, 
Were cleverly, softly played. 

(Speaking) 

Who is this from whom the crowd has shrunk, 
As though he had some look that terrified ? 
He has a deathly face, and yet he moves 
Like a young foal that sees the hunt go by 
And races in the field. 



74 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

(A player with the mask of Lazarus has entered.] 

LAZARUS 

He raised me up. 

I am the man that died and was raised up ; 
I am called Lazarus. 

CHRIST 

Seeing that you died, 

Lay in the tomb four days and were raised up, 
You will not mock at me. 

LAZARUS 

For four whole days 
I had been dead and I was lying still 
In an old comfortable mountain cavern 
When you came climbing there with a great crowd 
And dragged me to the light. 

CHRIST 

I called your name, 

' Lazarus, come out," I said, and you came out 
Bound up in cloths, your face bound in a cloth. 

LAZARUS 
You took my death, give me your death instead. 

CHRIST 
I gave you life. 



CALVARY 75 

LAZARUS 

But death is what I ask. 
Alive I never could escape your love, 
And when I sickened towards my death I thought 
I'll to the desert, or chuckle in a corner 
Mere ghost, a solitary thing. I died 
And saw no more until I saw you stand 
In .the opening of the tomb ; " Come out ! " you called ; 
You dragged me to the light as boys drag out 
A rabbit when they have dug its hole away ; 
And now with all the shouting at your heels 
You travel towards the death I am denied. 
And that is why I have hurried to this road ; 
And that is why I claim your death. 

CHRIST 

I have conquered death 
And all the dead shall be raised up again. 

LAZARUS 

Then what I heard is true. I thought to die 
When my allotted years ran out again ; 
And that, being gone, you could not hinder it ; 
But now you will blind with light the solitude 
That death has made ; you will disturb that corner 
Where I had thought I might lie safe for ever. 

CHRIST 
I do my Father's will. 



76 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

LAZARUS 

And not your own ; 

And I was free four days, four days being dead. 
Climb up to Calvary but turn your eyes 
From Lazarus that cannot find a tomb 
Although he search all height and depth : make way, 
Make way for Lazarus that must go search 
Among the desert places where there is nothing 
But howling wind and solitary birds. 

(He goes out.) 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

The crowd shrinks backward from the face that seems 
Death stricken and death hungry still ; and now 
Martha, and those three Marys, and the rest 
That live but in His love are gathered round Him. 
He holds His right arm out, and on His arm 
Their lips are pressed and their tears fall ; and now 
They cast them on the ground before His dirty 
Blood-dabbled feet and clean them with their hair. 

(Sings) 

Take but His love away 
Their love becomes a feather 
Of eagle, swan or gull, 
Or a drowned heron's feather 
Tossed hither and thither 
Upon the bitter spray 
And the moon at the full. 



CALVARY 77 

CHRIST 

I felt their hair upon my feet a moment 
And then they fled away why have they fled ? 
Why has the street grown empty of a sudden 
As though all fled from it in terror ? 

JUDAS (who has just entered] 

I am Judas 
That sold you for the thirty pieces of silver. 

CHRIST 

You were beside me every day, and saw 
The dead raised up and blind men given their sight, 
And all that I have said and taught you have known, 
Yet doubt that I am God. 

JUDAS 

I have not doubted ; 

I knew it from the first moment that I saw you ; 
I had no need of miracles to prove it. 

CHRIST 
And yet you have betrayed me. 

JUDAS 

I have betrayed you 
Because you seemed all-powerful. 

CHRIST 

My Father 
Even now, if I were but to whisper it, . 



78 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

Would break the world in His miraculous fury 
To set me free. 

JUDAS 

And is there not one man 
In the wide world that is not in your power ? 

CHRIST 
My Father put all men into my hands. 

JUDAS 

That was the very thought that drove me wild, 
I could not bear to think you had but to whistle 
And I must do ; but after that I thought 
Whatever man betrays Him will be free ; 
And life grew bearable again. And now 
Is there a secret left I do not know, 
Knowing that if a man betrays a God 
He is the stronger of the two. 

CHRIST 

But if 

'Twere the commandment of that God Himself 
That God were still the stronger ? 

JUDAS 

When I planned it 

There was no live thing near me but a heron 
So full of itself that it seemed terrified. 



CALVARY 79 

CHRIST 

But my betrayal was decreed that hour 
When the foundations of the world were laid. 

JUDAS 

It was decreed that somebody betray you 

I'd thought of that but not that I should do it, 

I the man Judas, born on such a day, 

In such a village, such and such his parents ; 

Nor that I'd go with my old coat upon me 

To the High Priest, and chuckle to myself 

As people chuckle when alone, and that I'd do it 

For thirty pieces and no more, no less, 

And neither with a nod, a look, nor a sent message, 

But with a kiss upon your cheek. I did it, 

I, Judas, and no other man, and now 

You cannot even save me. 

CHRIST 

Begone from me. 
(Three Roman soldiers have entered.) 

FIRST ROMAN SOLDIER 
He has been chosen to hold up the cross. 

(During what follows, Judas holds up the cross while Christ 
stands with His arms stretched out upon it.) 

SECOND ROMAN SOLDIER 

We'll keep the rest away ; they are too persistent ; 
They are always wanting something. 



8o FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

THIRD ROMAN SOLDIER 

Die in peace. 
There's no one here but Judas and ourselves. 

CHRIST 
And who are you that ask your God for nothing ? 

THIRD ROMAN SOLDIER 

We are the gamblers, and when you are dead 
We'll settle who is to have that cloak of yours 
By throwing dice. 

SECOND ROMAN SOLDIER 

Our dice were carved 
Out of an old sheep's thigh at Ephesus. 

FIRST ROMAN SOLDIER 

Although but one of us can win the cloak 

That will not make us quarrel ; what does it matter ? 

One day one loses and the next day wins. 

SECOND ROMAN SOLDIER 

Whatever happens is the best we say 
So that it's unexpected. 

THIRD ROMAN SOLDIER 

Had you sent 

A crier through the world you had not found 
More comfortable companions for a deathbed 
Than three old gamblers that have asked for nothing. 



CALVARY 8 1 

FIRST ROMAN SOLDIER 

They say you're good and that you made the world, 
But it's no matter. 

SECOND ROMAN SOLDIER 

Come ; now let us dance 
The dance of the dice-throwers, for it may be 
He cannot live much longer and has not seen it. 

THIRD ROMAN SOLDIER 

If he were but the God of dice he'd know it, 
But he is not that God. 

FIRST ROMAN SOLDIER 

One thing is plain, 

To know that he has nothing that we need 
Must be a comfort to him. 

SECOND ROMAN SOLDIER 

Begin the dance. 
(They dance round the cross ^ moving as if throwing dice.) 

CHRIST 
My Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me. 

(Song of the folding and unfolding of the cloth.") 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

Lonely the sea-bird lies at her rest, 

Blown like a dawn-blenched parcel of spray 



82 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

Upon the wind, or follows her prey 
Under a great wave's hollowing crest. 

SECOND MUSICIAN 
God has not appeared to the birds. 

THIRD MUSICIAN 

The geer-eagle has chosen his part 
In blue deep of the upper air 
Where one-eyed day can meet his stare ; 
He is content with his savage heart. 

SECOND MUSICIAN 
God has not appeared to the birds. 

FIRST MUSICIAN 

But where have last year's cygnets gone ? 
The lake is empty ; why do they fling 
White wing out beside white wing ? 
What can a swan need but a swan ? 

SECOND MUSICIAN 
God has not appeared to the birds. 



NOTE ON 

THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF 
"AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 



NOTE ON THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF 
"AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 

A COUPLE of years ago I was sitting in my stall at the Court Theatre 
in London watching one of my own plays, * The King's Threshold.' 
In front of me were three people, seemingly a husband, a wife, and 
a woman friend. The husband was bored ; he yawned and 
stretched himself and shifted in his seat, and I watched him with 
distress. I was inclined to be angry, but reminded myself that 
music, where there are no satisfying audible words, bores me as 
much, for I have no ear or only a primitive ear. Presently when 
the little princesses came upon the stage in their red clothes, the 
woman friend, who had seemed also a little bored, said : * They 
do things very well," and became attentive. The distinguished 
painter who had designed the clothes at any rate could interest 
her. The wife, who had sat motionless from the first, said when 
the curtain had fallen and the applause was it politeness or 
enthusiasm ? had come to an end, " I would not have missed it 
for the world." She was perhaps a reader of my poetry who had 
persuaded the others to come, and she had found a pleasure, the 
book could not give her, in the combination of words and speech. 
Yet when I think of my play, I do not call her to the mind's eye, 
or even her friend who found the long red gloves of the little 
princesses amusing, but always that bored man ; the worst of it 
is that I could not pay my players, or the seamstress, or the owner 
of the stage, unless I could draw to my plays those who prefer 
light amusement or have no ear for verse, and fortunately they are 
all very polite. 

85 



86 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

Being sensitive, or not knowing how to escape the chance of 
sitting behind the wrong people, I have begun to shrink from 
sending my muses where they are but half-welcomed ; and even 
in Dublin, where the pit has an ear for verse, I have no longer the 
appetite to carry me through the daily rehearsals. Yet I need a 
theatre ; I believe myself to be a dramatist ; I desire to show 
events and not merely tell of them ; and two of my best friends- 
were won for me by my plays, and I seem to myself most alive at j 
the moment when a room full of people share the one lofty emotion. / 
My blunder has been that I did not discover in my youth that my 
theatre must be the ancient theatre that can be made by unrolling 
a carpet or marking out a place with a stick, or setting a screen 
against the wall. Certainly those who care for my kind of poetry 
must be numerous enough, if I can bring them together, to pay 
half-a-dozen players who can bring all their properties in a cab 
and perform in their leisure moments. 

I have found my first model and in literature if we would not 
be parvenus we must have a model in the " Noh " stage of 
aristocratic Japan. I have described in Certain Noble Plays of 
Japan (now included in my Cutting of an Agate] what has seemed 
to me important on that most subtle stage. I do not think of 
my discovery as mere economy, for it has been a great gain to 
get rid of scenery, to substitute for a crude landscape painted 
upon canvas three performers who, sitting before the wall or a 
patterned screen, describe landscape or event, and accompany 
movement with drum and gong, or deepen the emotion of the 
words with zither or flute. Painted scenery after all is un- 
necessary to my friends and to myself, for our imagination kept 
living by the arts can imagine a mountain covered with thorn- 
trees in a drawing-room without any great trouble, and we have 
many quarrels with even good scene-painting. 

Then too the masks forced upon us by the absence of any 
special lighting, or by the nearness of the audience who surround 
the players upon three sides, do not seem to us eccentric. We 
are accustomed to faces of bronze and of marble, and what could 
be more suitable than that Cuchulain, let us say, a half-supernatural 



NOTE ON '" AT THE HAWK'S WELL " 87 

legendary person, should show to us a face, not made before the 
looking-glass by some leading player there too we have many 
quarrels but moulded by some distinguished artist ? We are a 
learned people, and we remember how the Roman theatre, when 
it became more intellectual, abandoned " make-up " and used the 
mask instead, and that the most famous artists of Japan modelled 
masks that are still in use after hundreds of years. It would be a 
stirring adventure for a poet and an artist, working together, to 
create once more heroic or grotesque types that, keeping always 
an appropriate distance from life, would seem images of those 
profound emotions that exist only in solitude and in silence. Nor 
has any one told me after a performance that they have missed a 
changing facial expression, for the mask seems to change with the 
light that falls upon it, and besides in poetical and tragic art, as 
every " producer " knows, expression is mainly in those move- 
ments that are of the entire body. 

" At the Hawk's Well " was performed for the first time in 
April 1916, in a friend's drawing-room, and only those who cared 
for poetry were invited. It was played upon the floor, and the 
players came in by the same door as the audience, and the 
audience and the players and I myself were pleased. A few days 
later it was revived in Lady Islington's big drawing-room at 
Chesterfield Gardens for the benefit of a war charity. And round the 
platform upon three sides were three hundred fashionable people, 
including Queen Alexandria, and once more my muses were 
but half welcome. I remember, however, with a little pleasure 
that we found a newspaper photographer planting his camera 
in a dressing-room and explained to him that as fifty people 
could pay our expenses, we did not invite the press, and that 
flashlight photographs were not desirable for their own sake. 
He was incredulous and persistent a whole page somewhere or 
other was at our disposal and it was nearly ten minutes before 
we could persuade him to go away. What a relief after directing 
a theatre for so many years for I am one of the two directors of 
the Abbey Theatre in Dublin to think no more of pictures unless 
Mr. Dulac or some other distinguished man has made them, nor 



88 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

of all those paragraphs written by young men, perhaps themselves 
intelligent, who must applaud the common taste or starve ! 

Perhaps I shall turn to something else now that our Japanese 
dancer, Mr. Itow, whose minute intensity of movement in the dance 
of the hawk so well suited our small room and private art, has 
been hired by a New York theatre, or perhaps I shall find another 
dancer. I am certain, however, that whether I grow tired or not 
and one does grow tired of always quarrying the stone for one's 
statue I have found out the only way the subtler forms of literature 
can find dramatic expression. Shakespeare's art was public, now 
resounding and declamatory, now lyrical and subtle, but always 
public, because poetry was a part of the general life of a people 
who had been trained by the Church to listen to difficult words, 
and who sang, instead of the songs of the music-halls, many songs 
that are still beautiful. A man who had sung " Barbara Allan " 
in his own house would not, as I have heard the gallery of the 
Lyceum Theatre, receive the love speeches of Juliet with an 
ironical chirruping. We must recognize the change as the painters 
did when, finding no longer palaces and churches to decorate, they 
made framed pictures to hang upon a wall. Whatever we lose in 
mass and in power we should recover in elegance and in subtlety. 
Our lyrical and our narrative poetry alike have used their freedom 
and have approached nearer, as Pater said all the arts would if 
they were able, to " the condition of music " ; and if our modern 
poetical drama has failed, it is mainly because, always dominated 
by the example of Shakespeare, it would restore an irrevocable past. 

W. B. Y., 1916. 



MUSIC FOR 
"AT THE HAWK'S WELL 

Br EDMOND DULAC 



All rights of performance reserved by Edmond Dulac 
8 9 



A NOTE ON THE INSTRUMENTS 

IN order to apply to the music the idea of great simplicity of execution underlying 
the whole spirit of the performance, it was necessary to use instruments that any one 
with a fair idea of music could learn in a few days. 

The following offer hardly any difficulty, while they provide a sufficient back- 
ground of simple sounds which the performer can, after a very little amount of practice, 
elaborate at will. 

A plain bamboo flute giving the appropriate scale. 

A harp, a drum and a gong. For these last two, any instruments on oriental lines 
with a good shape and a deep mellow sound. 

For the harp an ordinary zither, such as shown in the design of the musician, 
can be used. The strings, beginning by the lower ones, are grouped in nine or ten 
chords of four notes consisting of : the key-note, two strings in unison giving the fifth 
above, and the octave of the key-note. 

Beyond these chords there are seven double strings tuned to any pentatonic scale that 
suits the play. 

The tuning of the chords and free strings would be altered according to the 
performance, and several flutes giving different scales would be required. 

The same chords and scales should be used throughout any one play. 

The instruments are distributed as follows : one musician plays the drum and 
gong, one the flute, the singer takes the harp. 

The drum and the gong must be used at times during the performance to emphasize 
the spoken word ; no definite notation of this can be given, and it is left to the imagina- 
tion and taste of the musician. 

SCALES FOR THE INSTRUMENTS 

THE HARP ' Free string -<*- 






=*&=&=** 



THE FLUTE. 



MUSIC FOR AT THE HAWK'S WELL " 

To be sung 'without accompaniment as they unfold the curtain. 



I call to the eye of the mind A well long choked up and dry And 






boughs long stripped by the wind, And I call to the mind's eye Pall - or of an ivory 




face Its lofty dis-so-lute air, A man climbing up to a place The salt sea wind has swept bare. 

3 -^ 3 _- 3 .. 

I have dreamed of a life soon done, Will he lose by that or win? A mo- ther that saw her 



HH -I ^^ IT J *^J 



son Dou-bled o-vera speckled shin Cross-grained with nine-ty years Would cry, " How 




little worth Were all my hopes and fears And the hard pain of his birth ! " 



9 2 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



To be sung as they sit doivn 






FLUTE. 



ii ff 



HARP. 







The boughs of the hazel shake, The sun goes down in the west. The 






Speaking : 

--r- -T-- Night ftiv etc. 

heart would be al-ways a - wake, The heart would turn to its rest. 










"Why should I sleep," the heart cries. " For the wind, the salt wind, the sea wind Is 







MUSIC FOR "AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 9 3 



Speaking : 
" That old man," etc. 




wind -" 

~~~ 



I* ** ^ ^"""""'^ 






Speaking : 

He has made a little heap of leaves, etc. 





wind, O salt wind, O sea wind!" Cries the heart, it is time 



X, w*,^Srt Jos- 5* B w ^^L. 

r.^f= =S=EEIE|EE^EEE=^E^|E:^ =B 

^S 



PRELUDE TO THE DANCE 



To %m when the Young Man says : 
" Ah, you have looked at her 



E i_ 6 '^: _____ -^iTr=r^r=ii=^==I=EE--r=EE3^ E^^^ : 







94 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 











_ __ --^ :ry__^_ ._ -.r^ ^^ 4 y 







accelerate 






crescendo 













MUSIC FOR "AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 95 



THE DANCE 

The Dance is played through to A, begun again at going to B, begun again 
at and played to the end, omitting the passage from A to B. Thus it 
ought to last about 3^ minutes. 

This Dance is joined on to the Prelude by a soft roll 
on the gong 'while the girl begins to move. 

FLUTE. 

I *t T T I T T T 







Gong. Drum. 



cres cen do . 



L n _.n jr^L^j^LJrJ-J. 




j. I j- ^ i_ i , 



cres - cen <& 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 






E=&S= 




^^s^^s ^s^s^r^s* fS^^s***^ S V N S N N h-. ^..^ 

" "" 













diminuendo 



louder and faster 





.__^__ ^_^_ 










MUSIC FOR " AT THE HAWK'S WELL " 97 



Speaking : 
" O God, protect me," etc. 



~^-L^ ' --J 3 ^_f_^ 

slower .......... 






"jT' ^ J^^j j^ r ^j JJ^_ 



Drum. Gong. Drum. Gong. Drum. 







f ^ry j/ow 



little quicker 



^fftsr: 



^Eijfrl^^E^ 



E 



gg^^^; 






- I -T 3- 3 

=1 







Speaking : 
" The madness has laid hold upon him." 



5: :J: : fi 






Gong. 
H 



9 8 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



Speaking : 
" Run where you will . . . 
^-^ slower "^ very slow 



fff P PP 







Gong. 



Speaking : 
" I have heard water splash." 

At the end of the Dance begins a soft roll on the gong 
HARP. 










and so on till they sing He has lost what may not be found 



^^^ 



He has lost what may not be found Till men 







HARP. 









MUSIC FOR "AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 99 






heap his bu-rial mound And all the history ends. He might have lived at his ease An 



^==^33== 

-\pf~J , ^j f 




ggdht r~ fr * . K r~F~qn* 









old dog's head 



on his knees A - mong his children and friends. 



very slow 






. -g- -- -m- - -- -*- -g- I J_ J 



To be sung before they rise to unfold the curtain. 



FLUTE. 



Come to 






HARP. 



=3^: 




me hu-man fa - ces, Fa mi liar me-mo ries, I have found hate - ful eyes A - 












100 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 






H -Q-iH-J--^ J^l 

^H=^=^=^^i 



mong the de-so-late pla-ces, Un-faltering, un-moistened ' eyes. Fol-ly a - lone I cherish 




I chose it for my share, Be - ing but a mouthful of air, I am con-tent to perish, 







_rn--g--f= =r-J-J_=zjiiii= 

a)-a> S 1 g-a-g-g -g-j-q- 



I am but a mouthful of sweet air. O lamentable shadows, Obs cu - ri - ty of strife, 



^ -g. 







choose a pleasant life, A - mong in - do-lent meadows, Wisdom must live a bit-ter life. 



^^= ^^Er^^n 









MUSIC FOR "AT THE HAWK'S WELL" 101 

To be sung while they unfold and fold up the curtain. 






" The man that I praise," Cries out the empty well, " Lives 



all his days Where a hand on the bell Can call the milch cows To the comfortable door of his house. 



Who but an idiot would praise Dry stones in a well?" 






"The man that I praise," Cries out the leafless tree, "Has 






married and stays By an old hearth and he On naught has set store But children and dogs on the floor. 






Who but an idiot would praise a withered tree?' 



NOTE ON 
"THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER 



103 



NOTE ON "THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER" 

WHILE writing these plays, intended for some fifty people in a 
drawing-room or a studio, I have so rejoiced in my freedom 
from the stupidity of an ordinary audience that I have filled 
" The Only Jealousy of Emer " with those little known con- 
victions about the nature and history of a woman's beauty, 
which Robartes found in the Speculum of Gyraldus and in Arabia 
Deserta among the Judwalis. The soul through each cycle of 
its development is held to incarnate through twenty-eight typical 
incarnations, corresponding to the phases of the moon, the light 
part of the moon's disc symbolizing the subjective and the dark 
part the objective nature, the wholly dark moon (called Phase i) 
and the wholly light (called Phase 15) symbolizing complete 
objectivity and complete subjectivity respectively. In a poem 
called " The Phases of the Moon " in The Wild Swans at Coole 
I have described certain aspects of this symbolism which, however, 
may take i oo pages or more of my edition of the Robartes papers, 
for, as expounded by him, it purports to be a complete classification 
and analysis of every possible type of human intellect, Phase i and 
Phase 15 symbolizing, however, two incarnations not visible 
to human eyes nor having human characteristics. The invisible 
fifteenth incarnation is that of the greatest possible bodily beauty, 
and the fourteenth and sixteenth those of the greatest beauty visible 
to human eyes. Much that Robartes has written might be a 
commentary on Castiglione's saying that the physical beauty of 
woman is the spoil or monument of the victory of the soul, for 
physical beauty, only possible to subjective natures, is described as 
the result of emotional toil in past lives. Objective natures are 

105 



io6 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

declared to be always ugly, hence the disagreeable appearance 
of politicians, reformers, philanthropists, and men of science. A 
saint or sage before his final deliverance has one incarnation as 
a woman of supreme beauty. 

In writing these little plays I knew that I was creating some- 
thing which could only fully succeed in a civilization very unlike 
ours. I think they should be written for some country where all 
classes share in a half-mythological, half-philosophical folk-belief 
which the writer and his small audience lift into a new subtlety. 
All my life I have longed for such a country, and always found it 
quite impossible to write without having as much belief in its real 
existence as a child has in that of the wooden birds, beasts, and 
persons of his toy Noah's Ark. I have now found all the 
mythology and philosophy I need in the papers of my old friend 
and rival, Robartes. 



MUSIC* FOR 
" THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 



BY WALTER MORSE RUM MEL 



* See Note on Music, page 108 

All rights of Performance reserved by W. M. Rummel 
I0 7 



Music of tone and music of speech are distinct from each other. 

Here my sole object has been to fnd some tone formula which will enhance and bring 
out a music underlying the words. The process is therefore directly opposed to that of 
tone-music creation, which from the formless directly creates its tone form, whereas I 
seek to derive a formless overflow from the already formed. 



FIRST MUSICIAN : A medium voice, more chanting than singing, not letting the musical 
value of the sound predominate too greatly the spoken value. 

The First Musician uses a Plucked Instrument (harp or zither) to reinforce 
the notes of his song in unison or in the octave. (It is advisable not to reinforce 
each note sung, but only each beat, unless certain difficulties of pitch would 
necessitate the reinforcing of such note.) 

During the symphonic moments of the play the Plucked Instrument assumes 
a more individual part. 

SECOND MUSICIAN : Using a Flute, of a soft and discreet quality. 

THIRD MUSICIAN : Using a Bowed Instrument, one-stringed, more like a Hindu 
Sarinda, perhaps with a sympathetic vibrating string, giving a nasal sound. This 
part furnishes a bass, a sort of horizon to the song, and becomes more individual 
in the symphonic parts of the play. 

FOURTH MUSICIAN : Using a Drum, preferably also an oriental model, played with the 
palm and the fingers of the hand. The drum part is indicated by (long) and 
v (short). The numbers below these indications signify the fingers employed. 
The using of the palm of the hand is indicated by P. 

In case there are only Three Musicians, the Second and Third Musicians can 
alternatively take the Drum part in places where they are unoccupied. 

All instrumental music, especially during the speaking parts, must always leave the 
voice in the foreground. 

W. M. R. 



108 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 



The stage is any bare place in a room with a wall beyond it. A screen or curtain 
hung with a pattern of mountain and sky can stand against it, but t-he pattern must 
only symbolize or suggest. 

THREE (FOUR) MUSICIANS enter. One stands singing while the others sit down against 
the wall by their instruments which are already there : a plucked instrument , a 
bowed instrument^ and flute and drum. 



FIRST MUSICIAN (singing]. 



1ST Mus. anxiously questioning 




Why does my heart beat so ? 



Did not a shad - ow pass? 









3RD Mus. pp sempre 



4 TH Mus. Held very evenly. 



m 



m 



hurriedly . . returning to movement 



mf 



Who can have trod in the grass ? 



It passed but a mo - ment a - go. 







* \ Indicates a slide (portamento) of the voice, after oriental fashion see subsequent applications. 

109 



no FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



evenly 




What rogue is night wan-der - ing ? 



Have not old wri ters said That 



PP 



intensely 



dizzy dreams can spring From the dry bones of the dead ? 




|-T T ( *! 



LW 



hurrying -=^HT 



And many a night it seems That all the val - ley fills With those fan-tas - tic dreams. They 

- 1 -.--P* -i 



!==EE^=_ 



z 



J E 



in time, intensely 



held back 



1 u/m-Qo _ 



over - flow the hills, So passionate is a shade Like wine that fills to the top A 



g3 

^ 






THE DREAMING OF THE BONES in 






grey-green cup of jade, Or may - be an a - gate cup. 

retarding =: : 



, ,. ' The hour before dawn and the moon covered 

(speaking) } 

3RD Mus. I IjjP ^q^^E 5 3 

up. The little village of Abbey is covered up ; 



IST Mus. 



2ND MUS. 

(Flute) 









I. The little narrow trodden way that runs 

From the white road to the Abbey of Corcomroe 



Is covered up ; 



2. 



and all about the hills 




> ^m -- * -, 



I. Are like a circle of Agate or of 



Jade. Somewhere among great rocks on the scarce grass 












* See footnote, p. 109. 



ii2 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

I. C Birds cry, they cry their loneliness. 



1. f Even the sunlight can be lonely here, 

2. 1l3~ =1=1 * .. J 



Even hot noon is lonely. 



I hear a footfall 







A young man with a lantern comes this way, 



He seems an Aran fisher, for he wears 
The flannel bawneen and the cow-hide 

shoe. He stumbles wearily and stumbling prays. 




Young Man enters praying in Irish} 
CHORUS 






:--< 



Once more the birds cry in their loneliness, 



m/: 



mf 



fe 






THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 



I. But now they wheel about our heads ; and now 

They have dropped on the grey stone to the north-east. 

{A Young Man and Young Girl come in) 

sf V 



I. 



2. 



^ 







No music until page 56, line 13. 
YOUNG MAN : For fear their owners might find shelter there. What is that sound ? 





^j lli-< 1 


3- 


sfz=-p held . . . . 




long 2 2 


4- 


p 3 p 3 




5 5 


STRANGER : 


An old horse . . . 


3- 


/^v 17 IB n 

(gK r~i i n 

^*- ^ 


4- 


^ 



JVo mtfj/r until page 58, //^ 18. 
STRANGER : Or grey Aughtmana shake their wings and 

?=- j =i^^^=^ 



THE WALK AROUND THE STAGE 

Two steps may be taken to each musical measure, making it a very slow figurative 
step. This will mean about 24 steps to one walk around the stage (Round). The 
last two steps may be twice as long (in time), accompanied by certain movements of 

I 



ii4 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

expectancy. In calculating that each step amounts to half a metre, the length of 
the stage would have to be of five metres. 



i metre 



5 metres 

{C =)} 



12 metres in all. 



5 metres 

If necessary the two opening measures may be repeated at will, the same at beginning 
of each round. 

As to the spoken part preceding the song in each round, this must be arranged for 
by the singer. The singing voice must be able to easily enter in time at its proper 
place. The spoken part, however, can be begun before the time indicated for 
it in the music, or after, according to the speed of speech. The rhythm of the 
music should be slow. 



STRANGER : cry 

IST ROUND. In a slow mysterious rhythm 



Mus. / 
ute) \ 



2ND MUS. 

(Fl 



IST Mus.*- 



3RD MUS. f 

(Boiv Instr.}\ 
STEPS : 







Dreamingly, always in background 



Speaking : They've passed the shallow well 
and the flat stone Fouled by the 



p Insist on rhythm 



I 
(left) 



2 
(Tight) 




drinking cattle, the narrow lane /have carried Noble or peasant /An owl is crying out above 
Where mourners for five centuries/ to his burial. / their heads. 




TO/ Weirdly expressive "without, however, covering the voice 

5 6 7 8 9 10 

* The 4th Musician may double the plucked instrument, giving the same rhythm. 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 115 




Expressive but in time on account of the -walking 







Singing : Why should the heart take fright . 

HF= = $ -= 



i z /A* background 



12 



13 




What sets it beat - ing so ? 



I?. 



The bitter sweetness of the night Has 

" 



SEE^f 



-^ tr 






i^l 



:1 



15 . 



16 



*7 



18 




19 2O 21 22 

* All small notes sung as indicated, before the beat, but nevertheless very short. 



n6 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

Very rhythmic and strong. tf 



Efe 



bird of March, begin to crow, Up with the neck and clap the wing, Red cock, and crow 




/ roughly 



/ plucked roughly 

2 3 pause 



2 4. 



pause 



pause 



2ND ROUND. 



BLg^EE =fe^==zJgz^ z^Jgizi =r^ 




Spoken : And now they have climbed through 
the long grassy field, And passed 












mf 

5 




the ragged thorn trees and /hedge ; and the tomb-nested owl At the 
the gap In the ancient' foot's level heats with a vague-wing. 




My 









. 10 



% I I 12 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 117 













head 



is in a cloud ; 



I'd let the whole world go. My 









"S 



16 




ras cal heart is proud 



re mem - ber - ing, re - mem - ber- 









18 



20 




Very rhythmic and strong 






f r 










ing. 



Red bird of March, begin to crow, 



I 






f roughly 



mf 
21 



22 



/ plucked roughly 

2 3 pause 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 







& W~^ ^ ip 3 '- ~tr~:ip ~ ii^ q_ dip: __-.- 



Up with the neck and clap the wing, 



Red cock, and crow. 



pause 



pause 



3RD ROUND. 







Speaking : They are among the stones above the 
ash, Above the briar and thorn 



trfe 






m 



mf expressive 

4 5 6 







and the scarce grass ; Hidden > them The cat-headed bird is |^|_^ I^T^I^i:: 

amid the shadow far below / crying out. 







10 



II 12 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 119 




f-~f. 



dream ing bones cry out be - cause the night winds blow And heaven (is) a cloudy blot ; Ca- 



N X" 

m 



m 



PP 
13 



H 



5 



16 17 



18 



la-mi ty can have its fling. 




20 



/ plucked roughly : 
2 3 



21 



22 



waning 



We're almost, etc. 

Up with the neck and clap the wing, Red cock, and crow. No -music 









2 4 



pause 



j>ause 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



CLOSING SONG 

THE MUSICIAN zinging 



ZND MUS.- 



1ST MUS. 



3RD MUS./ 






At the grey round of the hill Mus - ic of a lost kingdom Runs, 













runs and is suddenly still. 



The winds out of Clare-Gal-way Carry it : 
i ( 






Slowing up a, little In time 










i p 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 121 




heard in the night air A wandering ai - ry mu - sic ; And moidered in that 



pp 



=\ ~ - 



deeply expressive 



returning to -movement 



snare A man is lost of a sudden, In that sweet wandering snare. . . 




deeply expressive 



2. 



Coming out plaintively, -without disturbing the melody 

izapdzrr: 




What fin - ger first began Mu sic of a lost kingdom? 






TO/- 



122 



FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 









They dreamed that laughed in the sun. Dry bones that dream are 



PP 



TO/ 



1 






bit-ter, They dream and dark - en our sun. 








THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 



I2 3 






*" JP~- ~-~^ m/ 



Gradually returning to former mood 



wandering airy music ; Our luck is withered a - way, And wheat in the wheat - ear 




pp 



Very tense : 



2 2^ 2^ ^ ^ 



getting fainter 






withered, And the wind blows it a - way. . . . 

Very tense =C 







f" More vigorous and alive. 



\-ef-rz T-g; 

t-^- ~ F ^ 




My heart ran wild when it heard The curlew 



^|^P^^= 



i2 4 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 



intensely 



waning 



I 






cry before the dawn And the eddying cat headed bird ; . . 






33 33 



33 



again 








But now the night is gone. 



r> ^ >- 




Very rhythmic and strong. 



w->>> > > ^ > 






I've heard from far below The strong March birds a - crow .... Stretch 



roughly 






f roughly plucked 



THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 125 



p Slower 




2. 



I. 














like a sigh 



NOTE ON 
"THE DREAMING OF THE BONES 



127 



NOTE ON "THE DREAMING OF THE BONES" 

DERVORGILLA'S few lines can be given, if need be, to Dermot, and 
Dervorgilla's part taken by a dancer who has the training of a 
dancer alone ; nor need that masked dancer be a woman. 

The conception of the play is derived from the world-wide 
belief that the dead dream back, for a certain time, through the 
more personal thoughts and deeds of life. The wicked, according 
to Cornelius Agrippa, dream themselves to be consumed by flames 
and persecuted by demons ; and there is precisely the same thought 
in a Japanese " Noh " play, where a spirit, advised by a Buddhist 
priest she has met upon the road, seeks to escape from the flames 
by ceasing to believe in the dream. The lovers in my play have 
lost themselves in a different but still self-created winding of the 
labyrinth of conscience. The Judwalis distinguish between the 
Shade which dreams back through events in the order of their 
intensity, becoming happier as the more painful and, therefore, 
more intense wear themselves away, and the Spiritual Being, 
which lives back through events in the order of their occurrence, 
this living back being an exploration of their moral and intel- 
lectual origin. 

All solar natures, to use the Arabian terms, during life move 
towards a more objective form of experience, the lunar towards a 
more subjective. After death a lunar man, reversing the intel- 
lectual order, grows always closer to objective experience, which 
in the spiritual world is wisdom, while a solar man mounts 
gradually to the most extreme subjective experience possible to 
him. In the spiritual world subjectivity is innocence, and 
innocence, in life an accident of nature, is now the highest 

129 K 



1 3 o FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

achievement of the intellect. I have already put the thought in 
verse. 

He grows younger every second 

That were all his birthdays reckoned 

Much too solemn seemed ; 

Because of what he had dreamed, 

Or the ambitions that he served, 

Much too solemn and reserved. 

Jaunting, journeying 

To his own dayspring, 

He unpacks the loaded pern 

Of all 'twas pain or joy to learn, 

Of all that he had made. 

The outrageous war shall fade ; 

At some old winding whitethorn root 

He'll practise on the shepherd's flute, 

Or on the close-cropped grass 

Court his shepherd lass, 

Or run where lads reform our daytime 

Till that is their long shouting playtime ; 

Knowledge he shall unwind 

Through victories of the mind, 

Till, clambering at the cradle side, 

He dreams himselt his mother's pride, 

All knowledge lost in trance 

Of sweeter ignorance. 

The Shade is said to fade out at last, but the Spiritual Being 
does not fade, passing on to other states of existence after it has 
attained a spiritual state, of which the surroundings and aptitudes 
of early life are a correspondence. When, as in my poem, I 
speak of events while describing the ascent of the Spiritual Being, 
I but use them as correspondence or symbol. Robartes writes 
to John Aherne, under the date of May 1917, a curious letter on 
this subject : " There is an analogy between the dreaming back 
of the Body of Passion " (I have used instead of this term the 
more usual term Shade), " and our ordinary dreams and between 
the life of Spirit and Celestial Body taken together " (I have sub- 
stituted for both terms the less technical, though, I fear, vague 
term Spiritual Being), " and those coherent thoughts of dreamless 
sleep, which, as I know on my personal knowledge, coincide with 



NOTE ON " THE DREAMING OF THE BONES "131 

dreams. These dreams are at one time their symbols, and at 
another live with an independent life. I have several times been 
present while my friend, an Arab doctor in Bagdad, carried on 
long conversations with a sleeping man. I do not say a hypnotized 
man, or even a somnambulist, for the sleep seemed natural sleep 
produced by fatigue, though sometimes with a curious suddenness. 
The sleeper would discuss the most profound truths and yet while 
doing so make, now and again, some movement that suggested 
dreaming, although the part that spoke remained entirely uncon- 
scious of the dream. On waking he would often describe a long 
dream, sometimes a symbolic reflection of the conversation, but 
more often produced by some external stimulus^-a fall in tempera- 
ture in the rooms, or some condition of body perhaps. Now and 
again these dreams would interrupt the conversation, as when he 
dreamed he had feathers in his mouth and began to blow. Seeing, 
therefore, that I have observed a separation between two parts of 
the nature during life, I find no difficulty in believing in a more 
complete separation, affirmed by my teachers, and supported by 
so much tradition, when the body is no longer there to hold the 
two parts together." 

I wrote my play before the Robartes papers came into my 
hands, and in making the penance of Dermot and Dervorgilla last 
so many centuries I have done something for which I had no 
warrant in these papers, but warrant there certainly is in the folk- 
lore of all countries. At certain moments the Spiritual Being, or 
rather that part of it which Robartes calls " the Spirit," is said to 
enter into the Shade, and during those moments it can converse 
with living men, though but within the narrow limits of its dream. 



K 2 



NOTE ON "CALVARY 



133 



NOTE ON "CALVARY' 

I HAVE written the little songs of the chorus to please myself, 
confident that singer and composer, when the time came for per- 
formance, would certainly make it impossible for the audience to 
know what the words were. I used to think that singers should 
sing a recipe for a good dish, or a list of local trains, or something 
else they want to get by heart, but I have changed my mind and 
now I prefer to give him some mystery or secret. A reader can 
always solve the mystery and learn the secret by turning to a note, 
which need not be as long as those Dante put to several of the 
odes in the Convito. I use birds as symbols of subjective life, and 
my reason for this, and for certain other things, cannot be explained 
fully till I have published some part at any rate of those papers of 
Michael Robartes, over which I have now spent several years. The 
following passage in a letter written by Robartes to Aherne in 
the spring of 1917 must suffice. "At present I rather pride 
myself on believing all the superstitions of the Judwalis, or rather 
in believing that there is not one amongst them that may not be 
true, but at first my West European mind rebelled. Once in the 
early morning, when I was living in a horse-hair tent among other 
similar tents, a young Arab woke me and told me to come with 
him if I would see a great wonder. He brought me to a level 
place in the sand, just outside the tent of a certain Arab, who had 
arrived the night before and had, as I knew, a reputation as a 
wonder-worker, and showed me certain marks on the sand. I said 
they were the marks of a jackal, but he would not have this. When 
he had passed by a little after sunrise there was not a mark, and a 
few minutes later the marks were there. No x beast could have 



135 



136 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

come and gone unseen. When I asked his explanation he said 
they were made by the wonder-worker's ' Daimon ' or * Angel.' 
* What,' I said, ' has it a beast's form ? ' * He goes much about 
the world,' he said ; * he has been in Persia and in Afghanistan, 
and as far west as Tripoli. He is interested in things, in places, 
he likes to be with many people, and that is why his Daimon has 
the form of a beast, but your Daimon would have a bird's shape 
because you are a solitary man.' Later on, when I mastered their 
philosophy, I came to learn that the boy had but classified the 
wonder-worker and myself according to their division of all mankind 
into those who are dominated by objects and those who are dominated 
by the self or Z#/, or, as we would say, into objective and subjective 
natures. Certain birds, especially as I see things, such lonely 
birds as the heron, hawk, eagle, and swan, are the natural symbols 
of subjectivity, especially when floating upon the wind alone or 
alighting upon some pool or river, while the beasts that run upon 
the ground, especially those that run in packs, are the natural 
symbols of objective man. Objective men, however personally 
alone, are never alone in their thought, which is always developed 
in agreement or in conflict with the thought of others and always 
seeks the welfare of some cause or institution, while subjective 
men are the more lonely the more they are true to type, seeking 
always that which is unique or personal." 

I have used my bird-symbolism in these songs to increase the 
objective loneliness of Christ by contrasting it with a loneliness, 
opposite in kind, that unlike His can be, whether joyous or 
sorrowful, sufficient to itself. I have surrounded Him with the 
images of those He cannot save, not only with the birds, (who 
have served neither God nor Caesar, and await for none or for a 
different saviour,\ but with Lazarus and Judas and the Roman 
soldiers for whom He has died in vain. " Christ," writes 
Robartes, " only pitied those whose suffering is rooted in death, 
in poverty, or in sickness, or in sin, in some shape of the common 
lot, and he came especially to the poor who are most subject to 
exterior vicissitude." I have therefore represented in Lazarus 
and Judas types of that intellectual despair that lay beyond 



NOTE ON "CALVARY' 137 

His sympathy, while in the Roman soldiers I suggest a form 
of objectivity that lay beyond His help. Robartes said in one 
of the conversations recorded by Aherne : "I heard much of 
Three Songs of Joy, written by a certain old Arab, which owing 
to the circumstances of their origin were considered as proofs 
of great sanctity. He held the faith of 'Kusta ben Luki, but 
did not live with any of the two or three wandering companies of 
Judwalis. He lived in the town of Hayel as servant to a rich 
Arab merchant. He himself had been a rich merchant of Aneyza 
and had been several times to India. On his return from one of 
these journeys he had found his house in possession of an enemy 
and was himself driven from Aneyza by the Wahabies on some 
charge, I think of impiety, and it was then he made his first song 
of joy. A few years later his wife and child were murdered by 
robbers in the desert, and after certain weeks, during which it was 
thought that he must die of grief, his face cleared and his step 
grew firm and he made his second song. He gave away all his 
goods and became a servant in Hayel, and a year or two later, 
believing that his death was near, he made his third song of joy. 
He lived, however, for several months, and when I met him had 
the use of all his faculties. I asked him about the * Three Songs/ 
for I knew that even on his deathbed, as became the votary of a 
small contentious sect, he would delight in exposition. I said, 
(though I knew from his songs themselves, that this was not his 
thought, but I wanted his explanation in his own words) : * You 
have rejoiced that the Will of God should be done even though 
you and yours must suffer.* He answered with some emotion : 
' Oh, no, Kusta ben Luki has taught us to divide all things into 
Chance and Choice ; one can think about the world and about 
man, or anything else until all has vanished but these two things, 
for they are indeed the first cause of the animate and inanimate 
world. They exist in God, for if they did not He would not have 
freedom, He would be bound by His own Choice. In God alone, 
indeed, can they be united, yet each be perfect and without limit 
or hindrance. If I should throw from the dice-box there would 
be but six possible sides on each of the dice, but when God 



138 FOUR PLAYS FOR DANCERS 

throws He uses dice that have all numbers and sides. Some 
worship His Choice ; that is easy ; to know that He has willed for 
some unknown purpose all that happens is pleasant ; but I have 
spent my life in worshipping His Chance, and that moment when 
I understand the immensity of His Chance is the moment when 
I am nearest Him. Because it is very difficult and because I have 
put my understanding into three songs I am famous among my 
people/ " 



THE END 



Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 



A'.- 



BINDING SECT. HftYlK WW 



PR Yeats, William Butler 

5904 Four plays for dancers 

F6 
1921 



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